Studio Dental

Architect: Montalba Architects

Location: Santa Monica, California

Category Two: Up to $1,500,000 in construction cost

The context of this project was somewhat revolutionary: Transforming not only the availability of patient care and treatment but also the scale and the housing within which it is done.

With only 230 interior square feet, the design team’s primary challenge was to create the illusion of a more spacious interior while also packing the required program into the tiny footprint. Allocating enough space for all functional requirements—including a sterilization room, waiting area, and two operatories—required efficient design and drove the need for each piece to serve dual purposes.

"Impeccably detailed spaces that could inhabit any size building." ~ Jury comment

For example, the center millwork acted as both a cohesive wall finish and a storage system for all necessary tools and dental products. The raised wood floor, although seamless and seemingly chosen to compliment the warmth of its perpendicular counterpart, was essential in its design for concealing utilities like water tanks, the fuel tank wheel wells, and the electrical and hydraulic systems. The sterilization room doubles as the designated waiting area but also works to separate the patient spaces from the front-of-house equipment well that houses the main generator, dental equipment, and additional HVAC and cleaning supplies.

The perforated Corian ceiling panels backed with acoustic foam for sound dampening double as aesthetic vernacular to communicate the idea of porosity and a relationship to the outdoors. Similarly, the perforated Richlite panels—backed with mirrored acrylic to reflect light and illustrate depth—provide a contrasting texture to the traditionally sterile quality of its Corian. Finally, the back door of the trailer is fully operable and folds down to allow for ventilation and circulation within the office. This also allows for an open access point for the larger equipment maintenance.

"The project deftly balances the challenging program with a sense of dignity." ~ Jury comment

The 26-foot-long trailer’s exterior skin features reflective detailing that brings the same custom perforation pattern to the outer panels, at once a memory of the original utilitarian trailer function layered with the new use through the clients’ cohesive branding and imagery.

Additional information

Fabricator: Pacific Westline, Inc.


2016 Small Projects Awards Jury

Marika Snider, AIA (Chair), Snider Architecture, Beavercreek, Ohio

Will Bruder, FAIA, Will Bruder Architects, Phoenix

Mira Locher, FAIA, Kajika Architecture PLLC, Salt Lake City

Elizabeth Ranieri, FAIA, Kuth Ranieri, San Francisco

Jonathan Tate, Office Jonathan Tate, New Orleans

Image credits

Studio Dental 1

Mitch Tobias

Studio Dental 2

Mitch Tobias

Studio Dental 3

Mitch Tobias