THE ULTRAMODERN AESTHETIC of Sinada Dental was, in one sense, more than a decade in the making. Back when Dr. Ghassan Sinada was completing his prosthodontics residency in Houston, he spotted a home he admired so much that he thought, “One of these days, I’m going to have a house like this.” He tracked down and filed the name of the design firm: MC2 Architects.
He ended up hiring MC2 nearly 15 years later not for a house but for his eponymous dental office just west of downtown Houston. The practice, which specializes in prosthodontics and maxillofacial prosthetics, was MC2’s inaugural nonresidential project. The firm was hesitant to accept the commission, but Dr. Sinada pressed: “If we work together,” he told them, “we can do something special.”
Prophetic words: The resulting spa-like interior has been such a hit that Dr. Sinada’s wife, Dr. Linh Luu, later contracted with MC2 to design her own dental practice, winner of this year’s Best New Construction award.
Sinada Dental was not an easy repurpose: The existing practice had 10 operatories in a long, tunnel-like space, restrictive 7.5-foot ceilings and an astonishing 26 interior doors. Claustrophobia was the byword. “It wasn’t functional for doctors or patients, and not an inviting space to work or be seen in,” Dr. Sinada says. So he and MC2 decided to knock out the walls altogether and start anew.
The 12-month revamp, completed in 2016, enabled them to reimagine the 2,750-square-foot space completely. The new floor plan is oriented around a central hub, where sterilization, radiology and other major equipment are located. “Having sterilization there allows for quick and easy access from all rooms, creating efficient material flow and shorter distances for staff to prepare rooms,” the doctor says. “It’s easy; it flows well.”
Dr. Ghassan Sinada’s Repurposing Tips
Build efficiencies into space—where you put your cabinetry, supplies and equipment—so that the flow and functionality make sense and prevent patient-care interruptions. When you’re comfortable in the space, you perform at a higher level.”
That central kiosk is also home to a magnificent 700-gallon freshwater fish tank, a West African biotope loosely inspired by Dr. Sinada’s upbringing in Sudan, not far from the Nile River in East Africa. Its inhabitants—giant upside-down catfish, ropefish and schools of rare African barba and tetras—were all collected in or near the Sanaga River in Cameroon.
Other improvements: ceilings between nine and 10 feet, and just five doors in all, two of which are glass. To combat the relative paucity of natural light, MC2 installed LEDs at both floor and ceiling lines to create a sunlit effect. Banishing bleakness is important to Dr. Sinada, as the bulk of his patient roster consists of highly complex, sometimes traumatic cases. “I always tell people that we worked really hard to get the form, flow, functionality and location of the rooms and equipment just right,” he says. “It just so happened that when we put everything in the right place, it ended up looking really pretty.”