Sunday, December 05, 2010

Le Mans In Your Mouth

By Beth Herman

There’s an absence of regulation three-foot tall posters urging patients to brush, floss and smile in this office, and in fact a dearth of paper altogether. For Dr. Youssef Obeid, a Chevy Chase, Md.-based prosthodontist and assistant clinical professor for the Prosthodontics Residency Program at the University of Maryland Dental School, a digital office (including reduced radiation digital X-rays) was a key component in creating a space that met the requirements of an evolving 21st century specialty practice, reflected his interests as a race car driver and extended itself to patients in disposition and hospitality.
According to principal Andreas Charalambous of Forma Design, whose firm focuses largely on health care design and branding, trumpeting the client’s identity is tantamount to creating an environment that assures patients they’ve come to the right place. “The doctor didn’t want the space to look like any hospital,” Charalambous said, “or any 95 percent of dental offices that you go to and they all look alike. Dentists come out of school and are not educated in this aspect of things.” Noting that many professionals simply rely on choosing equipment and having suppliers do a basic office layout for them, Charalambous said they settle for a contractor building some walls and little else. “There is no thought to that. This is an opportunity for professionals to brand themselves, do something that reflects their personality and attracts the kinds of patients they want,” he affirmed.
For Obeid Dental, 8401 Connecticut Ave. NW, Charalambous said the team dealt with a small space that needed to be very functional, concentrating on elements of “precision” associated with a specialty practice and the split-second sport of racing. Sited on a corner with optimal street exposure, the 1,600 s.f. office is defined in part by strategic glass exterior panels that illustrate the practice and allow natural light in. There are also no corridors at Obeid Dental, the open space concept, including four operatories, divided by interior glass film panes for privacy. Stone floors provide continuity, and stainless steel– redolent of strength, power, technology and shiny race cars–is seen on a wall with footlights, as well as in the concierge desk (“concierge” being the operative word here). “It’s a free-floating desk,” Charalambous said. “You sign in, sit in the lobby area, and they get you coffee from the coffee bar.” A raised ceiling is dropped in some areas, such as the reception space, for more intimacy or definition, with “pill” ceiling cutouts made of drywall and a central uplight providing interest and a bit of distraction, perhaps, from the fact that beautiful as it is, one is indeed in a dental office! For contrast and warmth, the architects used a textured stacked stone wall in one area, with a shade of blue which is the client’s corporate color, also seen in his Forma Design-created logo and sign.
Maximum Velocity Design
A Fulbright Scholar, artist and photographer, Charalambous came to his profession through painting (one of his color fields hangs in the Obeid reception area) and espouses a kind of full concept architecture that includes furniture design, graphics, advertising, branding and more. Explaining that the idea is not just about laying out the space in which to do a job, attention to detail must reflect the doctor’s qualifications, he said, recalling a personal experience where he’d quickly exited a specialist’s office in great disarray years ago without ever meeting the doctor. “I don’t feel comfortable being in a place like that,” Charalambous said. “You need to feel as though they speak your language and understand what you need. Every little thing matters.”
Winning multiple design awards from entities in four states as well as IIDA, and with an office walk-through available on YouTube, Obeid Dental’s singular design, while unique to the client, is within the realm of most every practitioner. “We’ve done offices for prosthodontists, periodontists, pediatric dentists, facial plastic surgeons and family dentists,” Charalambous said. “You don’t need to be a specialist. You just need to care about your practice, the message, your patients, your staff. It’s an opportunity to resolve issues for the long term–to design a space that reflects your personality and one you’ll want to use for the next 10 or 20 years.”

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La Poutine du Jour said...

The title seems a little off.

Did you mean to write "Les Mains In Your Mouth," meaning "Hands in Your Mouth"? Le Mans is an ancient city in France, however it sounds homo-erotic.

Anonymous said...

Greatest title ever. I could not stop laughing.

Critically Urban on Dec 6, 2010, 9:51:00 AM said...

No it doesn't. It sounds like the sports car race.

Beth said...

Thanks, "Critically Urban," for making the connection between the race car driver/prosthodontist and the title. I love the race, and totally loved the Steve McQueen movie. You got it, sophisticate that you are.

Beth said...

Thanks, also, to "anonymous" who loved it and "could not stop laughing." Frankly neither could I when I came up with it! - Beth

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