In the Press

Relocating From Afar – Long-distance Project Wins Design Award

When most Americans think of the fall of 2008, they recall the financial meltdown that rocked the U.S. economy. For Drs. Tamara Caouette and Andrew Gibson, it marked the opening of their newly built leasehold office in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

The office for Smileworks, born in the midst of economic crisis, went on to become not only a great success; it won the Dental Office Design Competition 2010 for small practices.

Not only did Smileworks become a reality during this challenging time, but the planning and construction occurred while Drs. Caouette and Gibson were living and practicing in Maryland. These dentists chose to make the move to Mount Pleasant after three visits to the community during the summer of 2007. The local climate, proximity to the ocean, the beautiful and historic city of Charleston, and the growing professional and family population convinced them that it would be an ideal location for a first joint practice and to become known as the dentists near me.

The soon-to-be husband and wife team first met in high school while attending Mercersburg Academy. Dr. Caouette went on to study biology at Franklin and Marshall College, while Dr. Gibson studied biology at Washington and Lee University.

mt pleasant dentists in waiting area

Together, they attended West Virginia University School of Dentistry, where they earned their dental degrees in 2001. They worked in various practices in the Maryland area before building their shared practice in South Carolina.

The entire planning and construction processes occurred while the doctors maintained their busy practice schedules in Maryland. In fact, they were able to make the 600-mile trip to Mount Pleasant only once during construction. Planning for the office was also handled long-distance since their dental office design team is based in Nebraska.

Well-planned flow and ergonomic considerations throughout the office have made the doctors and staff more productive and less stressed at the end of each workday. Visual and acoustic privacy are enhanced by “layering” spaces from public functions in the front of the office to private functions at the back of the office.

Technology integration is a key office component and includes individual flat-screen TV monitors at every patient chair, and clinical workstations in each treatment room (Fig. 4).

smileworks dental office reception area

Contemporary furnishings add a comfortable, eclectic touch to the updated traditional interior scheme. After coming to the facility, Smileworks patients often comment that the environment feels more like a spa than a dental office (Fig. 1).

Not only do Drs. Caouette and Gibson continue to pursue excellence in dentistry, they also give back to society by serving as volunteers with the Give Back a Smile program, which (through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry) offers no-cost smile makeovers to selected victims of domestic violence. In the midst of global challenges, they truly embody a great American success story … and their office shows it!

by Dr. Michael Unthank, Architect, and Geri True, ASID

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: Dr. Andrew Gibson, Dr. Tamara Caouette, dental office design, Dr. Michael Unthank.

Congratulations to the winner of the 2010 Dental Office Design Competition for small practices – Drs. Tamara Caouette and Andrew Gibson of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. This annual competition is sponsored by Dental Economics®, Wells Fargo Practice Finance, the American Dental Association, and ADA Business ResourcesSM.

smileworks dentist office waiting room
Smileworks dental hygiene chair