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Hospitality by healthcare

“Design is a practical practice. There is a misconception that interior designers come up with creative ideas and make things happen almost magically, but that is not the case at all. A good design is very thoughtful,” said Kathryn Chaplow, interior designer and owner of Kathryn Chaplow LLC in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Kathryn Chaplow LLC is an interior design firm specializing in both residential and commercial markets for new construction and remodel work. Chaplow, a practicing designer of more than 20 years, and her studio team were tapped early on when it came to the Bengston Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery in Grand Rapids—along with AMDG Architects Inc., First Companies Inc., and Insignia Homes—when longtime clients Dr. Brad Bengtson, MD, FACS, and Anna Bengtson, marketing director, looked to bring an entirely new experience concept to envisioned life. 

Dr. Bengtson, founder and owner of the Bengtson Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery has been a board-certified plastic surgeon in Michigan for nearly three decades, working in reconstructive surgery early on in his career before deciding to launch his own practice nearly 13 years ago. The medical practice, originally located in the Women’s Health Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, specializes in aesthetics and plastic surgery, and provides non-surgical solutions for patients, such as Coolsculpting, JUVÉDERM, JUVÉDERM XC, and Latisse, among others. For Dr. Bengtson, who is also an international speaker and educator—and holds more than 10 medical device patents—it is the fine detail and natural result that are central to procedures and treatment. 

“I have traveled to all the top plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery centers that had med spas—visiting my friends in Louisville, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Kansas City, Belgium, Spain, and Stockholm, among others—met and visited with them and then put together a new vision for a completely concierge practice that is really unlike any plastic surgery practice in the world,” Dr. Bengtson said. 

To help bring this new chapter to life, Bengtson turned to Kathryn Chaplow LLC, AMDG Architects, and First Companies to transform the site into an approximately 46,000-square-foot, multi-tenant structure known as the New Vista Medical Office Building. The healthcare facility’s anchor tenant would become the Bengtson Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery, which initially had about an 18,000-square-foot footprint and has since expanded to nearly 24,000 square-feet. 

Peter Baldwin, AIA, NCARB, president and principal at AMDG Architects, said from the very beginning, the concept was to instill a sense of welcome and comfort in the patient or guest experience upon initial approach. 

“The interesting thing is, the Bengtsons really didn’t want a building that was a cold, contemporary glass box or a pancaked, two-story building with ribbon windows. They wanted it to feel more comfortable like a home—a big home, because it’s a medical building with a lot of suites in it,” Baldwin said. “I think one of the unique characteristics, or design challenges, is how do you scale up architecture that is generally driven more out of a residential scale?”

In the end, the interior layout welcomes with a grand, hospitality-like entrance complete with concierge desk and is designed with the intuitive workflow in mind. Planning also went into delineating staff and patient spaces; carving out areas for employees while also offering privacy for patients, such as the practice’s surgical wing, which has its own entrance, waiting room, and staff area provides a degree of discretion. The practice also features consulting areas, exam rooms, a boardroom with integrated technology for educational and live webinars, make-up area, men’s lounge, non-surgical treatment rooms, state-of-the-art surgical suites with pre- and post-operation areas, two surgery rooms, and staff workspace. 

For Dr. Bengtson, the combination of the building—its physical structure and interior design—the seamless integration of technology, and the staff who provide the care are what make the center so special. 

“The beauty of the building, the aesthetics, the non-medical aspects are important, but ultimately it is the staff who provide the care and make the building come alive,” Dr. Bengtson said. “I still pinch myself every day when I go in. It is very natural and proportional with everything we do, and I think the reflection of the space and the experience people have to really flow and work together. I believe we do that really well.” 

Text: R.J. Weick | GLBD Editor

Full text originally published in Great Lakes By Design: Crafted Lodging, 2020.

AMDG photography by Brian Kelly