This story was originally published in to 2012 April/May issue of Chattanooga Magazine.
Once a foundry district, the current charm of the reemerging Southside began to appear in the form of galleries and shops, restaurants and most importantly—new neighborhoods, almost 10 years ago. Dr. Mitch Baldree and his wife Dr. Marie Farrar were poised for an unusual opportunity.
They were the first professionals to purchase a commercial building in the Southside to be refurbished for a dental practice. Mitch renovated a portion of the building right away and moved in to serve patients, both new and old. Marie continued her joint practice at McCamish, Farrar, Cooper and Dyer. But last summer, she approached Craig Kronenberg, with Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects (HK) for advice on finishing out the remaining 872 square-feet of space at the 204 West Main Street office.
“I love the Main Street location,” says Farrar. “We’ve seen it in all its transitions. The sense of community among the people who live and work downtown is so strong.” Farrar and Baldree took advantage of grants, including one available through the Lyndhurst Foundation for community redevelopment. The interior had been used for storage and the available space was vertically oriented.
“I knew we would have to be incredibly efficient with the space in order to get four treatment chairs from it,” says Farrar. She also wanted the facility to have an open, contemporary look. Matthew Parks, an architect for HK made a number of suggestions, such as a circular staircase and sliding interior doors that were hung on barn-door-style rails. Every bit of the space had to work. “It had to be precise,” says Farrar.
“It took awhile to get everything into place,” she says. “We weren’t so focused on cost per square-foot, because we knew we would be condensing our productive use of the space.” However, there were plenty of other things to focus on.
Farrar wanted the space to be distinctively different from her husband’s and she felt compelled to be environmentally sensitive. In fact, she wanted to seek the US Green Building Council’s LEED® certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design). With the help of Parks and Jessica Aubert who works directly on certification for HK, her goals were achieved.
“It is the smallest LEED project in Chattanooga, but we had enough points to qualify for LEED Silver, instead of just certifying,” says Parks. “And, Dr. Farrar was awesome to work with.”
Other challenges included cost-driven ones, such as obtaining the best prices when ordering materials on a small scale. The lighting in particular had to be energy efficient, cost efficient and still have enough wattage for performing dental work. The solution—nine luminous orbs floating above patients’ heads provide plenty of light and a bit of fantasy to the large, open treatment room.
HK’s Interior designer Misty Moon also used oversized images and appealing colors to transform the former storage space into what her client feels is a delightful environment. Moon’s interior even won an award from Lumicor for capturing the creative use of its synthetic and translucent doors. Beth Rabon of Detail Designs accessorized the interior.
The result is cheery and refreshing. High ceilings provide a sense of larger space. Bright coral doors and neutral sofas splashed with lime-green accents pop against the deep russet of old brick. A circular stairway climbs to a kids’ mezzanine where siblings can relax while they wait for family members. Patients look through tall windows across the street to Townsend Atelier.
“My patients who have followed me have been surprised by how much they like the location,” adds Farrar. Smile Studio is near many of downtown’s private schools and only two blocks from Battle Academy, one of Chattanooga’s newest public elementary schools.
The office space isn’t the only thing that’s efficient. Farrar is busy streamlining her process for patients and their families so the system makes more efficient use of their time. She already knows that her patients will have excellent results from their orthodontic treatments, with all the modern materials and efficient bracket systems that provide a more gentle force to improve the bite.
“Every day I see the effects of improved confidence and self-esteem in my patients. But, I want to make sure people understand that orthodontics is about so much more than esthetics, which really is a reflection of a healthy bite,” says Farrar, with one eyebrow raised. “It just so happens, good functional occlusion is attractive.”
Visit smilestudio204.com for more information.