When Dr. Michael Cullen and his wife Michelle Legnza realized that their podiatry practice was outgrowing its Omaha office, the couple sought a new home that would accurately reflect their progressive office in a larger space and allow them to improve functionality and patient flow and add a retail component. Cullen and Legnza initially were attracted to Randy Brown Architects (RBA) because RBA’s own office is housed in a modern, funky building. “It was easy for us to drive by and say we should start here,” recalls Legnza. “Then we met with the RBA design team, and from the first minute it was like they were reading our minds.”
Legnza and Cullen walked the designers through their previous office and had them observe day-to-day operations so they could understand how things should flow. Circulation was crucial, and RBA delineated a floor plan that is clear and logical. Patients come in one door to the south and exit through a door to the west; they never backtrack, and the checkout process is private and separate from the waiting area. Locating the retail component adjacent to the waiting area enables patients to shop while they wait for their appointment. And situating the six patient rooms in a semicircle surrounding the lab was another logistical design decision. “We have made the office flow really easy on patients and staff,” says Legnza, noting that the open lab area allows the doctors and assistants to have everything right at hand with materials they need never more than 10 steps away.
“Movement of people was a key component to our design,” explains Randy Brown, FAIA, principal at RBA. “And we tried to make architectural elements out of functional elements of the space.” For example, all doctors’ offices have the door that separates the waiting area/public space from the patient rooms, but the RBA design team decided to emphasize this door, which they refer to as the “threshold.” Brown says, “You always have that door, but no one ever thinks to celebrate it.” The designers employed an oversized polycarbonate and stainless-steel pivoting door. A slot in the wall next to the door connects to the reception desk so staff can slip records from reception into a chart-holder pocket built into the wall outside the threshold; this simple design detail facilitates office functionality.
RBA knew the clients wanted a design that would reflect their forward thinking on patient care and technology. “We are a cutting-edge podiatry practice, and you take note of that when you walk through the door,” Legnza says. “This space was a shell so we were able turn it into what ever we wanted. We particularly liked the 12-ft. ceilings, which help keep the open feel. Another perk is that we back up to a golf course. Our patient waiting room has a full wall of windows; patients are much happier watching live golf than TV.”
The design team took this shell and delivered a clean, modern design with an honest use of materials and simple palette including wood and concrete. An orange accent color pops against the white walls and black floors. “It’s a low-maintenance facility,” Brown says. “We created a harder-edge architectural space by using graphics and color.” The curved orange wall that delineates the shop from the waiting room makes the design that much more edgy, as do oversized X-rays used as an art feature throughout the space including on one full wall of the waiting room. And rather than creating small name plates to designate the patient rooms, RBA blew up the room number as an exaggerated graphic on each patient room door.
Legnza and Cullen are pleased that their new RBA-designed office will help propel their business into the future. As the owner of the shoe store, Legnza says, “Everything we did was a collaboration of functionality, style, flow, and comfort for patients and staff.” She adds, “We built this with growth in mind and anticipate being here for a long time.” With a practice known for delivering expert medical and surgical podiatry care through the application of new technology and techniques, Cullen and Legnza are now able to continue offering the highest level of care in a new office with an equally high level of design.
Project: Omaha Foot and Ankle. Owner: Michael Cullen and Michelle Legnza. Architect, interior designer: Randy Brown Architects; Randy Brown, FAIA, LEED AP, project design/project architect; Andrea Kelly, Brian Kelly, Neil Legband, Jenni Schukert, project assistants. Contractor: Construct Inc.; Rich Vale, president. Engineer: Alvine and Associates; CEI Consulting Engineers. Photographer: Farshid Assassi.
Wallcoverings: Black Reserve Vahallan Papers. Paint: Sherwin Williams. Countertops: Wilsonart, Formica Corporation, Plastic Laminate, Pionite, Granite. Dry wall: USG. Flooring: Todd Rose Flooring, Mannington Commercial. Tile: Daltile, Stone Peak, Acadia. Carpet tile: Durkan Commercial. Ceiling: USG Corporation. Window treatments: 50 percent film. Workstations: custom millwork. Workstation seating: Herman Miller. Lighting: Lithonia. Plumbing: American Standard.
Location: Omaha, NE. Total floor area: 5,000 sq. ft. No. of floors: 1. Average floor size: 5,000. Total staff size: 8. Cost/sq. ft. $35