The State of Georgia’s only dental school – the Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) College of Dental Medicine (CDM) – has a new $112 million home that features a warm, embracing, family-centric care environment, provides state-of-the-art equipment for both students and dental practices, and fulfills a need for the university to educate more dentists.
Designed by architecture firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent in collaboration with Francis Cauffman as consulting dental architect, the five-story, 269,000-square-foot building features a host of sustainable design elements and is targeting LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The natural light-filled building, whose dominant exterior design element is a gentle curve that spans the length of building’s 1.68-acre footprint, was developed in response to patient and student input that called for an environment that was anything but institutional.
“I think we are one of the first, if not the first dental school in the world to solicit building design input from a Patient and Family Centered Care committee,” said Connie Drisko, CDM dean at GHSU (formerly the Medical College of Georgia). “The committee members told us that they wanted a patient-friendly building. And moving to this building from a box-like structure with not a lot of windows, I personally told the architects, ‘Don’t give me a box.’
The new CDM building is the first structure to be completed on a GHSU 25-acre site that adjoins the existing campus. As such, the design was intended to set the tone for the site’s future medical, dental and associated research buildings.
“We wanted to design a building that would be a catalyst for the new site and that spoke about modern healthcare,” said John Starr, LAS principal in charge of the project. “And at the same time, we wanted to respond to the existing campus context by using a warm red brick characteristic of the university’s historic buildings mixed with areas of dark gray iron spot brick as a counterpoint. To emphasize that this is a thoroughly modern healthcare environment with the latest dental technologies, we added extensive areas of glazing – in some areas three to five stories in height – along with sculpted metal canopies at three entrances and crisply detailed metal plates slicing into the brick around each punched window.”
This three-story public lobby and two-story patient sky lobby above it – both glass enclosed – feature rich brown wood paneling and bright white terrazzo floors with accenting zinc strips, which reinforce the geometry and character of the building.
The first floor patient-entry side of the building includes three entries, one for the Faculty Practice Group, another for emergency oral and maxillofacial surgery, and the main central entrance used by about 85 percent of patients. This entrance opens into the three-story main lobby where patients are greeted at a reception desk and directed for registration to the appropriate business office on the first through fourth floors.
Altogether, the building houses 316 dental operatories; a central sterilization center; a dispensary area on each of the first four floors; six student, faculty and staff lounges; 15 conference rooms; 10 support labs; and state-of-the-art equipment for students and dental practices, including 83 intra-oral radiography units and six panoramic/cephalometric x-ray machines, all but one with 3-D imaging capability.
Construction began on the CDM in August 2009 with substantial completion in June 2011.
Photos: © Jonathan Hillyer / Atlanta