Tucson, Arizona

CDG Architects has been providing architectural and master planning services for El Rio Community Health Center more than 15 years and continues to support this organization’s mission - providing underserved communities in Tucson, Arizona with high quality, patient-centered health care facilities.  Many depend on this agency as their regular source of medical care and have come to rely on the distinctively “pro-patient” character of each facility and the sensitivity of the staff. 

This new free-standing dental clinic addresses population growth in the area and is expected to allow for approximately 20,000 new patients once fully operational. It was developed as a Design/Build project, a collaboration between the El Rio facilities managers, BFL Construction Company, Inc. and CDG Architects. Designed to compliment an existing clinic, this new building provides visual continuity using the same masonry color, type, and pattern, similar massing and a comparably unique roof design.  It is distinguished from the existing facility using a bold, arched, brightly-colored frontispiece which also serves as an attractive sign wall for the building.  Windows are “punched in” to the façade, as characteristic in the southwest, to maximize natural light, where feasible, while minimizing heat gain.  High windows are used in the exam rooms, glass block provides texture, filtered light and privacy; vertical windows at the ends of corridors draw clients toward the outside.

The structure is contemporary, with a very down-to-earth appearance.  Entry is gained beneath a blue, pitched roof structure that provides shaded outdoor space.  The waiting room feels very open and spacious - angular walls and high ceilings to create volume.  Small clerestory windows allow natural light to fill the space without the heat of the desert sun and three large windows, placed at street level, are glazed with mirrored glass to minimize heat gain and provide visual continuity with the out-of-doors.  Light paint colors alternate with bold accent walls to provide visual interest and space for hanging locally flavored works of art. One corner of the room accommodates playful children in a safe, out-of-the-way setting all of their own.

This clinic contributes to the comfort and convenience of visitors and staff alike.  Circulation is clear and efficient; administrative functions are grouped together to encourage communication and close proximity for combined functional spaces between departments. The doctor administration area and lounge are placed distant from the entrance, providing privacy and quiet.  The laboratory, sterile area and x-ray lab are centrally located to be convenient for use by all of the professional staff.  Exam rooms are dispersed along corridors that provide the most efficient use of the available space.  Mechanical functions were placed in a “core” of the building to conserve space and to provide simplicity for maintenance staff.
Principal Architect Frank Mascia FAIA, ACHA
Owner/Client El Rio Community Health Center
Contractor BFL Construction Company, Inc.
Date Completed April 2004
Size of Project 9,400 SF New Construction
Construction Cost $1,294,926
Cost/Square Foot $138
Photos by Ron Medvescek