Opticianry School Goes Gorgeous and High-Tech

By Paddy Kamen

educationOpticianry education entered a whole new stratosphere when the new Georgian College Optical store opened this past September. Housed within the Sadlon Centre for Health and Wellness, the teaching store combines state-of-the-art equipment with superb design, displays and fixtures.

“It is a beautiful building with lots of natural light,” says Program Coordinator Janice Schmidt. “The optical store location is prime real estate, just inside the main doors. We have 1,000 square feet, with plenty of space for students, staff and instructors alike.”

The store is open to the public, as are several clinics for other health care practitioners which are housed in the $62.5 million dollar centre. These include a nurse-practitioner-led clinic, a clinic offering basic dental care, and clinics for massage therapy, speech, language and hearing services. In January, a spa and esthetics clinic will be added.

Brian Wolcovitch and Frank Fumagalliof Modular Design Systems created the optical centre. “The building is great and the location is amazing, with the windows of the optical store starting just as one walks in the huge entrance,” explains Wolcovitch. “We were able to take advantage of this with window cases that focus on sunwear. Experience with other clients has shown that people will cross over a busy pedestrian pathway just to get a closer look at sunglasses. They really draw people in to a store.”

Modular Design System’s display units make it easy for those entering the store to quickly see what is available. “The entire surface can be easily modified with display posters and other brand identification. Branding creates a welcoming and visually stimulating environment and makes a strong impact,” explains Wolcovitch.

The store is mainly white, with red accents on the furniture and walls.

Schmidt loves the store. “Brian has created a minimalistic, less-is-more environment that is user-friendly for patients and students alike. It is bright, modern, versatile and pleasing to the eye.”

The college’s opticianry program, located above the store, features a large contact lens lab (Schmidt’s bailiwick, as the head instructor in contact lens fitting) that supports the learning of students who then use the store to work with clients. “We have 10 new slit lamps connected to 10 large flat screen monitors, which are mounted on the wall,” notes Schmidt. “This is a wonderful teaching tool as I can walk behind the students and see what they are doing.”

The program location also features the largest lens-surfacing lab of any technical institute in North America. Schmidt explains:  “While eyeglass fabrication is not part of the scope of practice for opticians we believe that in order to understand optics it is important for students to practice surfacing lenses. They’ll be using very sophisticated equipment.”

The store must serve a wide range of demographics, from students on a shoestring budget to staff and members of the community at large. The dispensary is full-size with five display units, each of which holds from 90 to 100 frames along with posters and brand ID. “They can carry as many as 300 individual frames on full display and an additional 250 frames in other colours and sizes in frame presentation trays,” explains Wolcovitch. “In addition they have two stunning showcases that feature about 60 pairs of sunglasses along the corridor.”

The sense of pride that both Schmidt and Wolcovitch feel about the store will no doubt be passed along to opticianry students. “Some of our grads have come to see it and said they wish they were in school again,” notes Schmidt.

The Modular Design team has created a classy and upbeat environment where students will enjoy learning and in which the public will feel the quality. “I want the students to know how good it can be to both work in and hopefully own a beautiful retail environment once they graduate,” says Wolcovitch. “And the Georgian College optical store is most definitely second to none.”