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Kelson Orthodontics’ New Office Blends Classic with Contemporary


Kelson Orthodonics was growing and needed an additional location for its family-owned business. As a second-generation orthodontist, Dr. Chris Kelson wanted the office to blend old with new, integrating his father’s 35 years of experience with modern dental science.

“The new office’s contemporary design has a high level of sophistication and includes modern features such as exposed steel, glass, concrete and stucco,” says Peter Rockwell, principal at Glancey Rockwell & Associates—the architectural firm behind the building. “Dr. Kelson has a keen eye and sharp sense of design, which gave us the freedom to design a jewel of a building in a small, 5,000-square-foot package.”

The building’s structural components not only serve a functional purpose, they also add a touch of dramatic flair to its design. Wood framed walls and steel bracing accommodate large spans of glass, and wood floor and roof trusses make up the balance of the building’s structure.

According to Rockwell, the design required a specific system that could accommodate multiple conditions. “We looked at wood, masonry and steel solutions, but it became clear that wood was the right choice,” he says. “It was easy to work with, satisfied the aesthetic concerns and structural qualities—and it was cost effective.”

Despite the building’s complicated nature, wood offered a smooth solution for constructing the office. Some of the forms the owner designed required built-up rib framing similar to a fine wooden canoe in order to get the soft shape desired. The use of wood provided softness and texture to the exterior accents, stairs, vaulted ceiling and reception area—offsetting and complementing the hard stucco and gypsum finishes.

The building’s framing is a combination of platform-framed two-story section and balloon-framed lobby space braced with steel to accommodate large open window spans. For the roof structure, the Glancey team used 24” Red-L™ open-web barrel trusses at 32” on-center, assembled to a 90’ exterior radius. The rounded roof complements the building’s interior curves.

“The truss webs were made from cold-formed tubular steel,” says Rockwell. “And steel pins were used to connect wood chords and flat-punched ends on steel webs.” Matching the truss curvature were two 2x6 wood truss outriggers that overhung four feet on high and low ends. Each set of outriggers was factory built and field installed.

The team at Solitude Homes, who acted as the general contracor and framers for the office, assembled the roof on the ground in two pieces. They put them together as modules with wind-bracing and bridging before crane lifting them into place fully sheathed.

Aside from the roof, Rockwell says a variety of wood species can be found in other parts of the building, including zebrawood stair treads, oak veneer doors, mahogany cladding on the trusses and maple finishes at the reception desk. The office’s large sunshade soffits feature weathered wood planking, which provide a pleasant texture and color, while complimenting the weathered wood siding.

In the end, Dr. Kelson got the modern, classic-looking office he wanted. And now the building is complete, his patients have a stunning, state-of-the-art orthodontic structure—and another reason to show off their new smiles.