Montalba Architects - Studio Dental 2
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Studio Dental 2

Montalba Architects

Health  /  Completed
Montalba Architects
Situated within a rapidly developing neighborhood in San Francisco’s financial district, the dentists’ brick and mortar location is defined by a modern aesthetic, while honoring the historic elements of the base building. This creates a transcendent environment that feels gallery-like and serene. The design centers on a conceptual ‘lantern’ within the dark building core, which communicates a sense of scale, luminescence, and transparency, and envelopes the series of operatories within. The lantern wall panels not only light up the dark building shell, but also glow through the storefront to brighten the street. The lantern provides patient privacy while engaging with the pedestrian streetfront, in an effort to energize the surrounding community.

In place of a common waiting room, a park-like bench extends the length of the space. Wood trellises provide separation between the bench and operatory rooms without closing off the space. Moments of material contrast are introduced between the rough shell walls, smoked mirror panels, and central colonnade of maple monoliths, which serve as functional storage and define the entry to each private patient room.

With the success of their first dental office, which is mobile and serves the greater San Francisco community, the clients desired a brick and mortar home. As a starting point, the clients wanted a design that reflected the progressive attitude of their practice. In their new location, they wanted to continue the community outreach they'd developed with the mobile office. The site they chose is in the heart of Tenderloin district, an area once home to a thriving music scene, now one of San Francisco’s most troubled neighborhoods. Their hope is that this project will play an active role in the ongoing revitalization of this community. From the street, the symbolic aim of the design is to project openness, warmth, and serenity.

The sustainable intent for the project was one of restoration. Located in a historic building, the project carefully preserves various original elements, including: the storefront, where the original glazing proportions were restored, as well as the original marble bulkheads; and the interior mezzanine, repurposed for storage and staff offices. The intent being to make use of, and celebrate, the existing urban fabric.

The project is located in the heart of the Tenderloin neighborhood in downtown San Fracisco, situated between the Union Square shopping district to the northeast and the Civic Center office district to the southwest. Pulbic transit and connectivity is exceptionally high.

Though located in a historic building, the project uses modern building technology to optimize the high-tech practice of dentistry, including lighting, equipment, and sanitary systems. Most of the interior elements that define the space – lantern walls, maple monoliths, wood trellises, concrete benches, smoked mirrors, bronze frames – were shop-fabricated, which minimized waste.


 San Francisco
 California, United States
 Studio Dental 2
 130 mq
 Montalba Architects
 Montalba Architects
 Build Group
 Structural Engineer - Julia Y. Chen Design Inc., Lighting Designer - Sean O'Connor Lighting, Inc., MEP Engineer - ACIES Engineering, Fabricator - Pacific Westline, Inc.
 Pacific Westline, Inc.
 Mitch Tobias


By embracing a humanistic approach that considers not only a client’s needs and site considerations, but also the cultural and economic environment, solutions are realized that are contextual, yet conceptual and visionary in their intent, effect, and appeal.

Projects emphasize conceptual experience by creating environments that are both socially responsive and aesthetically progressive. The forces of volumetric landscapes, material integrity, and the sculpting of natural light, as well as the purity of spatial volumes, create solutions to pragmatic requirements of the client, constructability, and context.


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