Design of the Future Winner: Josh Diehl, Mandy Welman and Monica Wilder, Benco Dental
Interior design and space planning: Mandy Welman; Graphic design: Monica Wilder; Revit rendering: Josh Diehl
Photography by Eric Larsen
TO DEVISE, Los Rocas Dentistry — “on the rocks” in Spanish — Benco Dental interior designer Mandy Welman climbed back into her childhood, part of which she spent near Portland, Oregon.
“When I began envisioning this building, I thought about the shape and flow of the space,” Welman says. “Throughout the process, it always had the sounds of the surf crashing behind it, and the stark, breathtaking rocky terrain so prevalent on the Oregon coast. I remember that water-crashing sound best, and it fit the building and the environment we wanted to create.”
The impetus for Welman and her design compatriots, Josh Diehl and Monica Wilder, was to lessen patient anxiety — which will be presumably no less a concern in the decades hence than it is now. “We used a lot of glass to create an open, honest communication with nature,” Welman says. “This gives the patient’s mind a place to focus and tune out stressful emotions.”
The trio also made sure that Los Rocas’s spectacular natural surroundings — the water, coastline and natural light that make the westernmost edges of Oregon so alluring — meshed fully with the practice’s interior. What Welman calls the “bat-wing design” of the treatment areas enhances privacy between operatories, as well as giving each patient his or her own unique, unobstructed view of the bay and the ocean beyond.
Patient privacy, the better to contemplate such captivating sights, was a top priority. “With the amount of glass used in the clinical space, I was concerned that sounds and conversations might drift, so we staggered the rooms to alleviate this,” Welman says.
The interior furnishings are every bit as modern as the structure itself, a departure from the norm that particularly appealed to Welman and her team. “Ninety-nine percent of the dental projects I work on are traditional,” she says. “Here, the juxtaposition of the crisp lines of the furniture versus the more organic exterior environment give the space a changing view that can alter dramatically with the light and shadows that paint the space throughout the day.
“It will never be a static environment,” she concludes. “You will always see something new” — yet feel the same soothing calmness of a practice that blends nature’s majesty with high technology and design — “every time you visit.”
“The main problem we have in today’s dental offices is the lack of ways to reduce stress. You have no way to decompress. The great thing about Los Rocas is the incorporation of outdoor suspension bridges. If your stress level climbs, you can step outside onto the bridge, take a deep breath and let some of those worries fly away.”