February 2012 — Inver Grove Heights, Minn. — Krech, O’Brien, Mueller & Associates, Inc., recently completed two projects for American Dental Partners, Inc. (ADPI), one in St. Louis, Mo., and one in Hamburg, N.Y. A third is currently under construction in White Plains, N.Y. KOMA’s relationship with ADPI is a prime example of a great partnership, one that goes back several years and encompasses multiple dental and corporate office projects.

Butch Dahlgren, a former associate of KOMA principals Jim Krech and Dan O’Brien, introduced KOMA to ADPI when he (Dahlgren) joined ADPI’s market development team. Cindy Nagel, one of the KOMA interior designers who works on ADPI projects, said, “Since we had an existing relationship with Butch, he felt it made sense to add us to the ADPI project team. Our first job with them, in 2006, was a corporate office in Wakefield, Mass., where ADPI is headquartered,” she said. “They had worked with other architects in the past, and still do, but this opened the door for us to do additional projects with them.”

ADPI continued to retain KOMA for projects around the country, both corporate and dental offices, including expansions, relocations, remodels and new construction. Nagel continued, “It is rewarding to know that ADPI has been so satisfied with our work and is confident enough in our skills that they continue to involve us in projects” – a fact that is especially significant for ADPI given the specialized nature of the work. “Some firms focus almost exclusively in the area of dental practice design, so convincing a client that you have the skills to do the work without an existing portfolio in that specialty can be an uphill climb,” said Nagel. “ADPI was happy with the corporate work and remodels we had done, so they were confident we could handle the more specialized dental practices.”

Nagel continued, “Many people wonder if designing a dental office is really that much different from other office work. A main difference is that there is a lot of equipment to fit in a small space, and organizing the details to create the best space for the client requires a lot of know-how.” Nagel points out that Laura Bauer, another interior designer at KOMA, has become the resident dental expert. “She has worked closely with the consultants on these projects and has really put a lot of time into learning the ins and outs of dental equipment,” says Nagel. “Figuring out the what/why/where of the various pieces has helped us to become an asset to ADPI. Learning the industry makes us a better partner.”

Despite a standard set of features, the differences between projects can be surprising. The offices are located across the country and each practice has its own way of doing things, which means slightly different layouts for each one. Each project has its own unique challenges, too. The two offices completed in January, for example, had opposite construction hurdles: the downtown building for the St. Louis office is listed on the Register of Historic Places while the office in Hamburg, N.Y., was the first tenant to build out in a brand new complex. The St. Louis team chose to hire a consultant to navigate the approvals process with the city’s park board, and across the country in New York the space was so new it didn’t have any electricity or HVAC. Nagel recalled, “We were ahead of the landlord on the project, so we had to work out ways to get heat into the space so the contractors could do the framing.”

From the initial visit for a site survey and to field measure the space, to the final walk-though and punch list, KOMA makes sure the project meets expectations. When the offices are finished, Nagel finds it rewarding to do the final walk-though and see how everything has come together. “It’s so great to hear Butch comment on how much he appreciates the teamwork of our crew, and it’s such a pleasure to be part of a team where everyone works hard to make each project successful.”