This orthodontics office design starts with a tour of the site – not the kind of tour you might think. Online sources allow me to view sites without leaving my office. Checking online zoning information, I find requirements for coordinating my design with the built context. Next I use maps available on the internet to view photographs of the proposed site and context. Internet sources provide aerial photographs and street level views of surrounding buildings. The lower right corner of images below shows the “person” icon I use to select each view. I can spin the icon and get a panorama.

Commercial Context Image from Google Maps
Commercial Context Image from Google Maps
Commercial Context Image from Google Maps
Commercial Context Image from Google Maps

What the photos show is fairly typical commercial design: brick and concrete masonry facades broken up into chunks of varying height, shape, color and material. Prevailing thought among city planning agency officials favors variety in facades. To summarize complicated planning and zoning regulations, no unrelieved expanses of blank wall are permitted.  At this point in the process, there is no need for me to visit the site to get more information.

I sketch a massing model breaking the building into a variety of shapes required by regulations  and place the building on a topographic model of the site.

Building Mass Sketch Placed on Google Earth Site
Building Mass Sketch Placed on Google Earth Site

The building and site model can be updated as design progresses. At each stage, Owners and I can use aerial and eye level images to preview the building on the site.

Internet sources such as Google Earth and Google Maps allow me to design a dental office site and building cost-effectively whether the site is across town or in another state. Once intial ideas are established, I can test and confirm them by visiting the site in person. With sketches in hand, Owners and I can walk a site and discuss design productively, referring to tangible ideas.

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