The highly expressionistic Usonian style Smedley Dental Clinic at 5666 S. Bannock St. is one of the most significant buildings in the area. The vanguard structure designed by Victor Hornbein is marked by many unusual features. The building is a solid triangular wedge with the pointed end at the back, and it seems to be inserted into a small hill rising east of South Bannock Street. The clinic sits at an angle facing the view of the Front Range to the southwest.
A central brick and glass entry is flanked by a pair of wings with diagonally canted window walls. The solid walls are eccentrically shaped, including the redwood end walls and the stepped brick walls beneath. One intriguing detail on the back side is where the canted brick back wall tilts inward and an overhanging volume of wood and glass is held up by a series of triangular brackets that fill in the gap. A particularly remarkable element of the Smedley Clinic is the narrow clerestory ribbon window that hovers above the roof line like a full-length periscope.
It is safe to say that Dr. C.W. Smedley, who commissioned the building, was a courageous client to undertake such a radical building for his offices. He was a business pioneer, who located his offices in the newly expanded eastern boundary of Littleton at the time the Broadmoor residential neighborhood was being built. The building is still owned by the Smedley family.
Hornbein is known for his many luxury residences, his Conservatory at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Ross-Broadway branch of the Denver Public Library, to which the
Smedley Clinic is closely related historically if not architecturally.
Hornbein was the region’s premier follower of Frank Lloyd Wright. Many examples of his work, including the Smedley Dental Clinic, represent the highest level of Usonian style architecture in Colorado.
Photographed Atom Stevens
Source: “Commercial Modernism in the Greater West Littleton Boulevard Corridor, 1950–1980” by Michael Paglia and Diane Wray Tomasso.