SHARAD PANDHI and his architect, Mark Harris, have a common approach to both their personal and professional lives: responsibility at all levels.
That has made both men highly regarded in their respective fields, and when Dr. Pandhi commissioned the internationally acclaimed Harris to design his Tucson, Arizona, practice — an LEED Gold project — heeding its surroundings was as important as the promise it would offer patients. “We were a good match, and in lockstep on investigating all the ways we could represent this shared ethos,” says Harris, whose eponymous firm is located in Colorado Springs.
The architect says one top priority was to “read the clues provided by the desert,” one of which came in the form of a tree: the velvet mesquite, which is characteristic of the desert Southwest and plays a key role in its ecosystem. The spectacular 12,350-square-foot space he designed (it’s known as the Parasol Building, of which the aptly named Smile Perfection is a component), thereby features a graceful photovoltaic canopy that both shades the building and generates renewable energy. “The environment is shared by all of us,” Dr. Pandhi, 60, says. “Each of us is appointed its steward. My goal always has been to fulfill my responsibility to the best of my ability.”
Harris incorporated elements such as a durable, zero-maintenance finish palette and high-tech materials such as insulated metal panels and steel, plus high-performance roof panels and aluminum glazing. “Buildings must be designed for their location, culture and environment,” he says, describing this one as a “tough desert building, long and low.” The whole thing took shape in less than a year. Dr. Pandhi is exultant: “My staff and I love the open plan, and lots of natural light in our work environment, along with the views,” he says.
Inside you’ll find clean lines, simple yet sophisticated details and muted colors. “Neither of us wanted the building ‘decorated,’ ” Harris observes. “Like desert vegetation, the building’s aesthetics should arise from its functional needs and unadulterated response to its environment.”
The space’s beauty and sustainability have garnered it international design encomia, but other benefits hit closer to home: Its photovoltaic consultant reports that Dr. Pandhi’s energy refunds just exceed his electricity bills — quite an accomplishment given Tucson’s extreme summer heat.
It’s a memorable space, to say the least. “The design of this building is unique, and either people love it or they’re not a fan of it,” Dr. Pandhi says. “When they come into the office, my patients are wowed by the fact that we have captured the views of the beautiful mountains and downtown Tucson from each room. I call this green desert home, and I wanted to make sure I made this project as environmentally sound as possible.”
An estimable goal, achieved to perfection. And a heck of a spectacular place to get your teeth cleaned, too.