White on White on White

Mark Brand’s modern design for a San Francisco-area dentist evokes the color of the cleanest teeth with hyper-sustainable modular paneling

PROJECT

Location San Francisco
Size 3,050 square feet
Completed 2011
Program Lobby, waiting room, examination areas, bathrooms

When dentist Markus Watson came to an open house for Warm Modern, a residential project by architect Mark Brand in San Francisco’s Noe Valley, he had a lightbulb moment. The dentist loved Brand’s design style—mixing principles of Mid-Century Modernism with warm, natural materials—and asked Brand to design his new dental office in South Beach. Though Brand’s portfolio is an eclectic array of work that ranges in style from Victorian to Modern, he is a passionate Modernist and was intrigued by Watson’s proposal. The South Beach Dental project, constructed by Westridge Builders, was completed in early 2011. Here, the founder of Mark Brand Architecture takes us through the most important aspects of his final design.

Whiteout Conditions

Brand’s first concept for the new South Beach Dental office was “white on white on white,” referencing a patient’s desire for white teeth and honoring the Modernist mantra, “form follows function.” Brand discovered exactly what he wanted one day while sitting in a restaurant in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. One wall had a “crazy” white textured surface; Brand liked it but thought it was a custom design that would be out of reach in terms of cost.

TEAM

Architect Mark Brand Architecture
Client Markus Watson
General Contractor Westridge Builders

 

“I asked one of my staff [members] to find out what it was,” Brand recalls, “He said, ‘Oh, that’s easy—it’s called Modular Arts.’” It turned out the interlocking panels were available from the Seattle-based manufacturer for a lesser cost than anticipated. Brand chose a style defined by sculpted circles. “My pop sensibility attracted me to this ‘big dot’ pattern, which reminded me of effervescent bubbles cleaning peoples teeth,” he says.

Eco-Walls

The Modular Arts panel Brand used is part of its InterlockingRock collection, a series of architectural products that, once linked, become a seamless, sculptural wall. The panels contain 20 percent post-consumer recycled material, come in 100 percent recyclable shipping materials, and qualify for LEED’s Materials & Resources credits 2.1, 2.2, 4.1, and 4.2.

GREEN

Tile Mosa tile in the guest bathroom is Cradle to Cradle Certified Silver
Wall Panels Modular Arts’ InterlockingRock panels contain 20% recycled content and no hazardous chemicals or adhesives
Countertops The Pure White Caesarstone quartz surface is low-maintenance and designed to prevent mold and microbes

The Modular Arts panels were well suited to the medical nature of the project as well. The panels have a clean record when it comes to healthfulness: they are created through the natural catalysis of gypsum without the use of chemical inhibitors, accelerants, or release agents; no glues or resins are used as binders; and there is nothing in the panels that will burn or off-gas.

Not everything was clad in the white paneling. Brand added warmth to the office with natural walnut and zebra wood laminate, and the counters are eco-friendly Caesarstone.

The Perfect Tile

As Brand’s clients have become more cost conscious in material choice, the architect has had to work harder to find more affordable materials. The same is true for sustainable products. “My clients want sustainable design, but they are generally not willing to spend money for it,” he says. “Our … experience is that things associated with [sustainability] tend to also be expensive.”

For the South Beach Dental offices, the search for a tile that was aesthetically pleasing, affordable, and sustainable led Brand to Mosa, whose tiles are Cradle to Cradle Certified Silver and were used for the walls and floor of the restroom in Watson’s dental offices. The tile maker has worked closely with Cradle to Cradle cofounder Michael Braungart’s Environment Protection Encouragement Agency, improving its tiles and production processes. Select Mosa products qualify for multiple LEED points, including for material reuse, recycled content, low-emitting materials, and construction waste management.

South Beach Dental