When Dr. Scott Rowley and Dr. Ben Ruder, partners at Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry, outgrew their space, they purchased land conveniently located adjacent to two pediatrician’s offices off Lilly Road. Now, just under two years later, the locally grown project has been recognized on a national stage.

Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry Captures Attention

olympia pediatric dentist
The award winning building is conveniently located to provide continuity of care for many patients with pediatricians nearby. Photo courtesy: Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry

This beautifully designed 6,000 square foot building caught the eye of the Dental Office Design Competition. Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry recently won Group Practice Design of the Year. The design competition took into account the aesthetically pleasing child-friendly design. The Olympia pediatric dental clinic visually announces to kids that this is a welcoming, fun place. The practice facility has maximized function and ergonomics for both the administration staff and the clinical team.

A highly competitive process, Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry won the design competition focusing on a welcoming aesthetic for children, while maintaining a simple, timeless and professional appeal.

“This welcoming experience is no accident,” says Garner Miller of MSGS Architects. “From the entrance to being seated in the chair, we designed the building to make the children comfortable.” In fact, the tree house climbing structure in the waiting room is so fun some families have trouble exiting after appointments.

olympia pediatric dentist
The open space allows children to see each other receiving dental care which helps them to feel more comfortable in their environment. Photo courtesy: Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry.

The partners began the process of building a child-centered office with Pinterest accounts. The dentists started pinning all the ideas they wanted to incorporate into their new home.

“It was a fun collaborative experience,” says Dr. Ruder. “We wanted to utilize as many local resources as possible.” From the Olympia-based architect to the general contractor, FORMA Construction, the project was completed using almost all local businesses with South Sound Bank financing the project.

“Scott and Ben had not built a project before,” recounts FORMA Construction owner, Drew Phillips. “They knew enough to bring together a team of people they could work with and trust with the process. The end result is a facility we are all very proud of.”

“What impressed me the most of how Ben and Scott made decisions was that they defaulted to the needs of their staff and patients for answers to the questions I had for them,” adds Phillips.

A Tour of the Pediatric Dental Office

olympia pediatric dentist
The child-sized door announces to the patient that this dental office is a place just for them. Photo courtesy: Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry.

The experience of visiting the dentist at Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry begins in the parking lot, with a walk along the meandering sidewalk. A child is beginning to feel more comfortable in their surroundings.

Once they have crossed over the footbridge and the tree house is in sight through the large glass windows, kids are eager to enter the building. Even the entrance has been designed with “small to tall” in mind. A special child sized door along with a standard one lets kids know this is a place designed just for them.

“Children tend to model their behavior after other children,” says Dr. Rowley citing the open exam area as an example. “When a child walks in and sees their peers getting their teeth examined, they know it is okay for them too.” In the rooms where more complex treatment happens, televisions are mounted to the ceiling so kids can watch a movie and be completely distracted from their dental work.

olympia pediatric dentist
The custom designed glass wall by nationally renowned artist Nikki McClure is just one of the pieces by local artists included in the building design. Photo courtesy: Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry.

The art hanging on the walls is work by beloved nationally recognized local artists Mimi Williams and Nikki McClure. The Pacific Northwest style architecture and environmentally friendly building materials brings the small to tall motif to life.

The waiting room is open and bright and the tree house encourages simple childhood play. The flow of the office, from the x-ray rooms to the open bays for patient care with comfortable parents window seats, is ideal. The American Dental Association recommends that infants have a well baby check-up for their teeth after the first tooth comes in and no later than the first birthday. Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry has a dedicated infant room where parents can get advice on proper cleaning and how to handle habits like thumb sucking.

The dentists at Small to Tall work as a team. Families benefit from the expertise of three full-time providers along with educated staff that know how to work specifically with kids. Dr. Rosaleen Shavron rounds out the dental team. The pediatric dental office offers the newest technology including the use of soft tissue laser and a full spectrum of sedation options. They are even able to arrest cavities on a young child so that they can be filled later when they are older or when finances allow.

olympia pediatric dentist
The tree house climbing structure was designed by Turner Exhibits who designed exhibits for the Hands On Children’s Museum. Photo courtesy: Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry.

The team at Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry prides itself on customer service. In addition to building each child’s confidence and trust in the environment they provide a full-time financial coordinator to help parents through the payment and insurance process. The Small to Tall team regularly welcomes preschool children on office tours and volunteers their time and talents to those in need.

“This project was fun to plan and build,” summarizes Phillips. “I still enter the lobby through the kid’s door.  FORMA’s Superintendent Fred Smith claims this to be the best job he’s every built and with 32 years of superintendent experience that says a lot.”

Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry
3422 – 12th Ave NE
Olympia, WA 98506


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