Eco-Tech Optometrist

Download - Eco Tech Optometrist

Portland, OR - May 14, 2008 - Open the door to Advanced Eyecare and Optical in Spokane, Washington and you are greeted with a panoply of gleaming maple and cherry, variegated slate stone, live plants and paint colors borrowed from the nearby forest. You might suspect that a botanical garden had taken over this optometry office.

When practice owner Todd Wylie, O.D. decided it was time to move to a larger office he wanted a one of a kind design that would combine his top two personal interests. Dr. Wylie enjoys the great natural beauty of the Northwest and wanted to bring it inside. He also wanted to build his new office as "green" and energy-efficient as possible while incorporating all the latest high tech equipment. "I don't plan to move again at this stage in my career," he states, "so this was my last chance to build my dream office."

He leased a 5,550 square foot two-story building with an elevator that formerly housed a credit union. He knew he needed some expert assistance to bring his ideas to fruition and make the patient flow work smoothly on two levels. To help him realize his vision he called in Barbara Wright of Barbara Wright Design in Portland, Oregon.

The first order of business was to create optimum patient flow. Because vision therapy is an important part of the practice, Dr. Wylie needed a separate waiting room where parents could relax and socialize while the children had their therapy sessions. He want an open inviting optical that would entice all visitors to shop whether or not they were getting an exam. Another big concern was how to move patients efficiently from one floor to the other without making techs run up and down the stairs all day.

"After looking at a number of space plan alternatives that Barbara developed, we decided that the flow would work best if the main reception counter was on the first floor along with a waiting area and all the optical functions," says Dr. Wylie. Wright suggested dividing the practice into three departments - Optical on the first floor, Vision Therapy and Optometry on the second floor. Each department has its own waiting area.

The second floor tech station is set up like a reception counter. A light signal system alerts staff when rooms are available. Patients go upstairs when directed by the first floor receptionist and are picked up by one of the second floor techs.

Carrying the botanical theme throughout the office, Wright incorporated curved walls and soffits to echo natural shapes and forms. The walls in the optical snake around the perimeter in a continuous free form curve, gently leading patients to browse around the entire frame collection. The high-end area occupies a prominent place up front, showing patients in no uncertain terms where to find the hottest high fashion designer frames.

Wright designed the optical to appeal to a wide range of income groups. The high fashion area has a distinctively upscale look with brightly lit cubicles set into the sweeping curve of a cherry veneered wall and set off with stone-patterned vinyl tiles. For moderately priced frames glass shelf display cabinets alternate with groups of frame bars attached directly to the wall. The glowing look of the optical makes a strong and lasting impression on patients. Wright achieved this unusual effect by designing layers of fluorescent, halogen and LED lighting that enlivens the hand-painted color blend on the walls and makes the merchandise "pop."

Dr. Wylie engaged talented local artist Peggy Best to add a touch of magic and whimsy throughout the office. She decorated the wall behind the main reception counter with stencils made from real leaves, then painted a fun tangle of vines, leaves and giant bugs in the kids playroom. In the optical she sponge-painted a calming blend of green, white and blue behind the frame displays, and a sunny blend of yellow and white in the sunglass area.

Best used a masterful technique called trompe loeil (French for "fool the eye") to create the illusion of a greenhouse in the parent's waiting room on the second floor. Dr. Wylie recycled the metal-framed glass windows left by the credit union to bring some daylight in to the parent's waiting room from the adjoining room. That provided the artist with inspiration for the greenhouse idea, which is a huge hit with patients.

Many of the building components contribute not only to the nature theme of the office, but also to a healthier planet. The carpet and vinyl floor coverings come from manufacturers who have eliminated harmful chemicals from their products and use recycled materials. For the reception and waiting area downstairs Dr. Wylie chose medium cherry luxury sheet vinyl flooring that is virtually maintenance free, except for occasional damp mopping. It has the look and texture of real wood but no non-sustainable hardwood trees were destroyed to create it.

After extensive research the environmentally minded optometrist went with LED (Light Emitting Diode) 2 x 2 light fixtures, which are more expensive initially but will cost much less to operate over the expected 20-year life of the facility. Most LED lighting has a blue cast that distorts colors and is not suitable for retail display. He used color-corrected LED's, which give superior color rendition. The LED ceiling lights also provide a very wide and even spread of general lighting.

"Patients tell us how much they love the unique style of our office," says Dr. Wylie, "but they also comment on how great the lighting is, which is something people normally wouldn't notice." After a few months in the new office, he compared the electric bills of the old office with the new and found that it was costing him quite a bit less per square foot in the new office. He feels that the LED lighting was a worthwhile investment.

"I'm very pleased that my designer understood what I was after," says Dr. Wylie. "She then stepped aside and let me work directly with the artist to put my own personal stamp on the office" Wright advised him to stay within the color palette she had established and keep the hand painting in the optical soft and abstract so it would enhance but not upstage the eyewear. Her guidance paid off. He is very happy with the increases he's seen in both optical sales and word of mouth referrals. He looks forward to a long and profitable run in his eco-friendly dream office.

Practice Owner

Todd Wylie, O.D.
Advanced Eyecare and Optical
412 East 30th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99203


Barbara Wright Design
1521 N. Jantzen Ave., Suite 379
Portland, OR 97217

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