An international medical charity headquartered in Virginia, Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children and young adults who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate, or other facial deformities. As an organization, they believe all children should have access to high quality medical care. Having outgrown their former headquarters, Operation Smile partnered with Clark Nexsen, the City of Virginia Beach, and Tidewater Community College to establish and design the Operation Smile Headquarters on Tidewater’s campus in Virginia Beach.

Fundamentally, the design goal was to create a headquarters space that enabled Operation Smile to communicate their mission and values, promote collaboration among team members, and provide operational transparency to visitors. The programming of the 75,000 square foot facility includes a bright, welcoming entry; auditorium and conference spaces for outreach programs and meetings with donors, doctors, and surgeons; an open office space; and an efficiently designed warehouse space visible through glass walls, allowing visitors to see the operations and sheer volume of Operation Smile’s global efforts.

Aesthetically, the design leverages a smart use of light, neutral finishes, and simple, elegant detailing to serve as a backdrop for the organization’s story. The lobby space is designed to accommodate an exhibit detailing a “day in the life” of a child that receives Operation Smile’s help, and the office space is open with flexible spaces and community areas. Technology is integrated throughout and white erase surfaces support collaborative work.

LEED Gold certified, the building and associated infrastructure incorporate multiple sustainable features, including low emitting materials and materials with recycled content. Daylighting in the space is so effective no artificial lighting is necessary for 87 percent of the day.

Designed and delivered under budget, the project cost savings are the equivalent of 913 facial surgeries. Additionally, the new headquarters is anticipated to allow Operation Smile to increase charitable surgical procedures from 21,000 to over 30,000 within the first 3 years of occupation, according to a spokesperson for the organization.

IES National Award of Merit, Guth Award for Interior Lighting Design, 2015
IES Tidewater Section Guth Award for Interior Lighting Design, 2015
ASID Virginia & IIDA Virginia/West Virginia Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) Honorable Mention, 2015
HRACRE Excellence Award of Merit – Best Office Building, 2014
City of Virginia Beach Planning Commission Design Honor Award, 2014