Dream, Design, Build Creating a Patient-Centered Environment Through Teamwork, Experience & Genuine Care
Atlanta Design Associates was first introduced to Dr. Scot t Merrit t in May of 2000 when they were given the opportunity to design his first of fice in Canton, Ga. To bet ter accomodate his patients, Dr. Merrit t established Bridgemill Dentistry in 2002. When it came time to design the new of fice he naturally came back to Atlanta Design to create the 5,800 square foot building on Sixes Road in Canton, Ga. “My true desire is to serve the community where my family is located”.
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The new of fice provides patients with a higher level of service that combines modern technology with sophisticated style. With state of the art digital technology, the spacious new facility features large exam rooms with TV monitors, nitrous oxide, & oral cancer screening equipment in each treatment room. The large monitors allow his patients to view their digital x-rays from their chairs. “The digital technology not only helps reduce the patient’s exposure during x-rays but also helps the patient to bet ter understand their treatment. They can see every thing for themselves on the big TV screens,” he explains.
We recently had a chance to talk with Dr. Merrit t about his new of fice design and his overall experience with Atlanta Design. What do your patients say about your new office? Overall has it had a positive impact on your practice?
It has been a very positive response! Our patients have always viewed us as a “quality first” practice, and they are able to feel that way when they first enter the parking lot. I was quite worried that people would be turned off by the size and scope of the building, but we kept such a warm homey feeling to it, that our patients have still felt right at home. How has your new office helped with marketing your practice? Our new location (right across the street from our old one) is much more visible to drive-by traffic. The structure is so unique to our area, that it really catches your eye when you drive by. Being a stand-alone building with plenty of parking provides easy access for everyone.
Has productivity increased since the design of your office?
I don’t think our productivity has necessarily increased, but we are definitely busier. We are able to accommodate more flow into the office, as we now have plenty of space for them. The office design with peripherally located treatment rooms is basically a big square. This is broken up by columns and ceiling work, so there are no long scary-looking hallways. What made you decide to bring on an associate? I needed more space. I love to work hard, and I love to be busy (who doesn’t). Patients were leaving the practice because they couldn’t be seen in a timely manner. It was the perfect recipe for a larger, newer structure and the right second dentist. I interviewed several really wonderful people, but I think I was incredibly lucky to find Dr. Cox. He truly
understands how it takes time to build something longterm, and things are really taking off for him. How was the overall process of working with Atlanta Design? What benefits did they provide? It was a remarkably easy process working through Atlanta Design. I know that I am supposed to say that, but it was really true. They have a full service design team that is very well oiled. My practice is quite busy, so it was hard to find time to dedicate to the process. They would work late Fridays, or come to my office whenever I needed them. There are other outfits and companies that may have cost less, but as in my practice, there is no substitute for top quality. From design to equipment to interior design, working with them was truly wonderful.
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Feature Article What were some obstacles when planning your new office & how did you overcome them? You hear it time and again when designing a dental office, but the flow of the office makes all the difference. We wanted to design a building that handled traffic well, while keeping the focal point on treatment room positions. We have 12 operatories, each with its own double sized window centered in the room. Our main difficulty with doing this was to maintain the external building symmetry as well. Atlanta Design used columns and fake door/ windows to achieve it. It was really remarkable what Gary Lowery and his team were able to do. Our old office was in the basement of a large building, so natural lighting was also a huge design motivator. The massive front windows really brighten the office…and the moods of the patients and staff.
Is there something you found out or had to deal with during construction or the design process that was a big eye opener… something you didn’t know before? I never realized how much oversight each county has on construction. It took more time to get the property ready to build, than it did to actually build. There are SO MANY facets to getting a project like this underway, that I just had no idea where to start. My project manager attended all the hearings and council meetings. He met with the county commissioner multiple times, drafted documents, and handled the entire construction hiring process. I would have failed miserably had these two teams not worked so closely together.
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Was there anything that surprised you about the space once you moved in? Anything you wish you had done differently? From the beginning of the design process, Gary Lowery and the Atlanta Design team were very insightful and creative. One interesting thing in the design really impressed me shortly after we opened; beautiful thought was put into line-of-sight disruptions. When walking down the various hallways, I never stare directly into a treatment room. Everything is offset slightly to avoid patients and parents, etc. from watching me and making eye contact while I walk toward a room. This allows me time to study the digital chart on my tablet before saying hello. The long hallways are broken up with columns and ceiling trays, making the whole place feel smaller and more homey. These are just a couple of items, but the entire building received that kind of attention to detail. It is nice to work with an experienced team. I really don’t think there is anything I would have done differently. That says a lot.
What advice would you give to anyone setting up a new office? Advice going through the design process? Through the construction process? As I stated earlier, I found it paramount to have someone who understands dental building construction from start to finish. Hiring a project manager at the very beginning was a huge stress relief. Imagine if your patients were not triaged when the they walked through your front door. You would be overwhelmed with problems and decisions constantly. Atlanta Design was very open to working with my project manager, and their line of communication involved me only when needed. This allowed me to focus on the practice during business hours.
Feature Article “Amazingly, despite all the year’s hard work and myriad decisions, I have few if any regrets. I believe there is no substitution for experience and teamwork in a project like this. I truly had a great experience with Atlanta Design. Their in-house interior design team was the perfect capstone to a well done project.” - Dr. Scott Merritt Were you able to successfully relocate existing equipment, furniture, etc… As it came time to move, the stress level jumped back up. We were closing for one week, and the entire old office was to be disconnected and moved into the new location. We also were putting in a new stericenter and four new rooms of equipment. Two weeks out, the walls were not painted and the carpeting had not yet begun…and I was a mess! The interior was finally finished, but the move was looming. Atlanta Dental Supply coordinated things, and for the next eight straight days everything was unhooked, removed, re-hooked, and made operational. It was truly remarkable to see it all come together. We had some further new construction pains, but the team was always there to make it all right.
What was your favorite part about working with Atlanta Design? This is an easy question to answer. I knew very little about what I was about to embark on. I just knew a basic design of what I wanted. Atlanta Design has a team dedicated to working together to make this happen. There is a stepby-step approach in which each member of their team takes their time and walks you through the bewildering process. I brought in my own project manager (which I highly recommend) and they went out of their way to work closely with him. If you are currently practicing dentistry, there is no way to have the time it takes to do this on your own. Atlanta Design worked nights and Fridays with me as much as I needed. They promptly retuned emails/calls and made excellent decisions whenever needed.
Atlanta Design Associates has served Dentistry for over 25 years by providing Interior Design, Architectural, & Consulting Services to the Dental Profession. ADA is one of the few allinclusive dental-design architectural firms in the country and is by far the most experienced & comprehensive. As technology, the economy, & communication methods continue to evolve, the founding principles of Atlanta Design Associates are a significant factor for the success of the projects in which they are involved.
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