Home Design Inspirations Doctor Transforms Abandoned Building Into Lake Town Eye Care Destination

Doctor Transforms Abandoned Building Into Lake Town Eye Care Destination

Dr. Lisa LaGassa
Dr. Lisa LaGassa

When Lisa LaGassa, OD, saw an abandoned building–a dry-cleaning business with a leaky roof–she also saw the potential. Her private practice down the road, Pointe Vision Care in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, that she started 20 years before had limitations. The strangely C-shaped suite wasn’t efficient, and it had become crowded.

Dr. LaGassa’s first practice

The COVID-19 pandemic also put a spotlight on the amount of space between the dispensing tables. “The practice needed a refresh and we needed more space,” she says. While driving home one day on a route she took often, Dr. LaGassa noticed a building up for lease. The corner space on a busy avenue featured floor-to-ceiling windows on two outer walls. The outside intrigued her; the inside was daunting.

The space on day one
The space on day one

Demolition begins
Demolition begins

TACKLING THE TRANSFORMATION

After cleaning out the space, filling two dumpsters with debris and safely disposing of a mound of dry-cleaning chemicals, it was time to redesign the space. “I never considered myself a designer,” Dr. LaGassa says, “but I knew I had to make these decisions.”

She also knew what worked. In 2002, after almost a decade of working in private practice as an associate, she and a partner started Pointe Vision Care. They acquired records and equipment from a nearby retiring OD. They wanted more autonomy in how they provided patient care and found value in starting privately, together.

It was a good first location, but it wasn’t perfect. “It felt like an aged living room with dark wood and paint,” Dr. LaGassa says. She also wanted to avoid a “white, clinical feel—I wanted a more comforting space.”

Despite its flaws, the abandoned corner building had so much promise. It would almost double their square footage, increase parking space and was on a main road.

In addition to designing the newly clean space, Dr. LaGassa and her husband David ran new plumbing and electrical, repainted the brick building white and changed up the landscaping.

BRINGING THE OUTDOORS IN

Dr. LaGassa and her husband are avid boaters and spend lots of time on nearby Lake St. Clair. So when she had the chance to start the new space’s design from scratch, she took inspiration from the boating town.

The new Pointe Vision Care
The new Pointe Vision Care

She decided on blues, whites and neutrals to bring the beauty of Lake St. Clair indoors. The walls are painted cream and others showcase a textured blue wallpaper. The front desk brings in a mix of textures with a brick front and stone top, and the lattice ceiling incorporates white feature tiles. Chandeliers above the front desk bring in a feminine touch, and the exam lanes also feature neutral walls with a featured wallpaper behind the exam chair. Durable, click-together flooring made from recycled bottles is easy to clean and can be replaced piece by piece should damage occur.

The optical from floor to cieling

Outside, the added metal awnings and painted the front door a contrasting black. They also hung neon blue signs on the front and sides of the practice, including an eye chart sign featuring the practice logo. “That was my husband’s idea. We have so many people walk by the practice every day, so we needed something cute to catch their eye.”

The outside of the practice at night

The office also featured three fully equipped exam lane, two automated and one manual. They set up their lab to include an edger down the road and also have an Oculus Easyfield perimeter, a Canon retinal camera and Marco 6100 automated refraction systems.

They found the optical chairs from a local designer who’s also a patient. “We wanted comfortable chairs that were durable and matched the wallpaper and paint to give a more industrial feel.”

Frame boards

AN AIRY SPACE SHE LOVES

“When I worked in a corporate mall location, I couldn’t see the outside at all. I felt like a mole,” she says. “Now when I walk out of the exam lane, I can actually see the beautiful boulevard and watch the trees change color in the fall.” It’s made a huge difference in her daily routine, and as the practice approaches its one-year-anniversary, Dr. LaGassa is happily at home.

The outside of the practice during the day

 

 

 

See other design inspiration stories here.


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