RDG and Creighton University began planning for the future of the School of Dentistry in 2006 by assessing existing facilities and holding a visioning retreat to assess potential opportunities to better serve the University, students and the community. A new facility was deemed the most beneficial option.
RDG's design for the Creighton University School of Dentistry offered the opportunity to unite innovative learning and service spaces into a single, contemporary facility where students, clinicians and patients become partners in learning and practice. Because the school offers a high level of care to many downtown area residents and in particular, those in underserved populations, design discussions centered around how the space could provide enhanced services not only to the University and students but to the surrounding community. The School of Dentistry opened in 2018, increasing patient capacity from 12,000 to 15,000 per year and expanding the reach of its high-quality dental care, to serve as a beacon for the neighborhood.
The four-level, state-of-the-art facility utilizes telemedicine and active learning environments in addition to the traditional didactic teaching pedagogy. Included are 138 adult clinic operatory chairs; 10 surgery and six acute care operatories with provision for 24/7 care services; 13 faculty practice operatories; and 15 pediatric/orthodontic operatories. The building includes a chapel allowing access to mass, prayer, reflection and council daily. Energy-efficient glazing systems, an external sunscreen, and a motorized sun shading device controlled by the building automation system assists in maintaining a climate-controlled environment.
From the onset of the project, the strategy centered around a goal to fulfill a "moral responsibility to care for creation." Early on in project programming, the building was envisioned as an integrated connection between the campus and its urban context. In keeping with this vision, the design for the school revitalizes an existing developed site and engages the pedestrian, patients, students and faculty at the street level through access and amenities.