WANDERING NEAR Rolling Hills Park in the Dallas suburb of Allen, Texas, an especially well-traveled visitor might come across The Dentist of Allen — an imposing structure with stone facing, checkerboard patterning, arched windows and a steeply pitched roof — and be reminded of the Burg Eltz, a medieval castle in hilly southwest Germany.
That twelfth-century master-piece was indeed the inspiration for Dr. David Bishop, who worked for seven years — battling not invading Mongols but truculent city planners and various NIMBY types — to bring his vision of a “never to be outdone” dental practice to life. It’s awe-inspiring: The palatial lobby alone features vaulted ceilings, ornate furnishings, classical landscape paintings, a white marble fireplace and a grand piano. Dr. Bishop, who began practicing in Allen in 1983, is particularly proud of the timber framework, as he should be: All 54,000 pounds of cypress timber that went into it was joined, cut, pegged and constructed by hand, much of it by the doctor himself, an accomplished woodworker. The frame uses no metal whatsoever. (Dr. Bishop also crafted the practice’s alder shutters; Bonnie, his wife of 33 years, and an outside designer composed the interior color palette.)
As in any swashbuckling Middle Ages adventure, though, the protagonist’s journey to his castle redoubt was fraught. The locals, perhaps understandably, were wary of Dr. Bishop’s plans; he cites “neighbors, bankers, city planners, zoning boards and city-council members” among those opposed. (Dr. Bishop himself formerly served six years on Allen’s city council.)
Once a half-decade of permits and financing were complete, the entire build took just 13 months. It opened last July, a 6,500-square-foot beauty now home to three dentists and a staff of 10.
It certainly makes a memorable statement, and every so often, Dr. Bishop does as well — on the grand piano. “The practice exterior looks more like a place to enjoy a celebrated meal, and we get daily comments on the lobby from just about everyone,” he says. “On occasion, my improvisational jazz gets a smile or two.”
Dr. David Bishop’s Construction Tips
- SEEK OUT A REPUTABLE BUILDER AND DESIGN TEAM, all of whom share your vision.
- DON’T MESS AROUND WITH THE FINANCES. The bank will make sure you can afford it, or it won’t lend you the money.
- DESIGN FOR THE FUTURE. Build something your successors will enjoy working in.
- FORGET TRYING TO FIGURE OUT A CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE until the financing has begun. You’ll never be able to.