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Operation Smile Builds Global HQ inVirginia Beach

Mon April 18, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

For almost 30 years, Operation Smile has been giving smiles to children and young adults around the world. Some 160,000 patients, who previously suffered from a debilitating cleft, have benefited from Operation Smile’s services that have allowed children to be healed, regardless of their financial standing. The good will that the organization has garnered over the years is now being returned to them, in part, through a land donation from the city of Virginia Beach where the organization’s new Global Headquarters is being built.

The groundbreaking for the new $20-million Global Headquarters occurred on Sept. 29, 2010, with a multitude of dignitaries present for the ceremony, including Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; Donald Trump Jr., who serves on Operation Smile’s Board of Directors; and Virginia Beach Mayor William D. Sessoms Jr., to name a few.

The donated parcel of land, which is 9.37 acres (3.748 h) and valued at $3.5 million, is located in the midst of Virginia Beach’s “Academic Village,” a new area that focuses on higher learning. Some neighbors include the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center, the Advanced Technology Center, Tidewater Community College (TCC), the soon-to-be-built city of Virginia Beach Joint Use Library, and numerous organizations within the local health care industry. The parcel of land is considered a “collaborative parcel” that has a shared service yard and shared outdoor space and common areas with TCC’s Regional Health Professions Center building.

Virginia Beach-based Hourigan Construction is providing construction management and design/build services for the project. Clark Nexsen Architecture and Engineering, Norfolk, Va., is the architect of record, and the Virginia Beach office of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB) is overseeing the civil engineering aspects of the project. Furthermore, there will be various subcontractors on site as the project progresses, including Chesapeake, Va.-based Higgerson-Buchanan Inc., which has already performed approximately 10 percent of the work on the project. Bids for other portions of the project, including concrete and structural steel work, will be awarded in early April.

Initial work on the project began in December with earthwork and site development performed by Higgerson-Buchanan. Utility work, parking lot construction and retention pond installation have commenced. The parking lot consists of 142 spaces and is made of asphalt and geogrid pavers. Furthermore, the lot has a bioretention system which is meant to capture and filter run-off from storms.

As of the middle of March, the architectural, structural and MEP design aspects were approximately 75 percent complete. The building construction will begin this spring, with an anticipated project completion date of April 2012. Starting in April, work will include removing the surcharge and pouring the concrete foundations, which will consist of approximately 2,000 cu. yds. (1,520 cu m) of concrete. In addition, there will be about 250 tons (225 t) of structural steel used on this project.

For its portion of the work, Higgerson-Buchanan used GPS navigation-controlled excavators, off-road dump trucks and bulldozers. Additional equipment on hand for site development and utility work include: Caterpillar 330C and 330L excavators, Caterpillar D5M and D6R LGP dozers, a Caterpillar CS563C compaction roller, and a Hitachi 160 excavator.

Some of these pieces of equipment were used to move “One hundred and fifty thousand cubic yards of raw material within the site from the retention pond itself and surface areas of the parcel itself,” like parking lots, said Ron McIntosh, executive vice president, Hourigan Construction. All raw material remained on site in keeping with the LEED certification.

A key component of the headquarter’s design is its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification. This certification indicates that the building was designed and constructed using green solutions. The design also features a limestone colored brick veneer with a two-story office and exhibit area and a high-bay warehouse. According to McIntosh, the building will be “integrated with curtain wall and curtain wall systems and metal paneling.”

The layout of the new headquarters consists of 72,300 sq. ft. (6,507 sq m), which includes the 16,000-sq. ft. (1,440 sq m) warehouse, about 50,000 sq. ft. (4,500 sq m) of office space, and approximately 8,000 sq ft (720 sq m) of dedicated public space.

The warehouse portion is a “clean” warehouse that will be used to store surgical supplies, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment as well as provide an area for logistical purposes.

The dedicated public space is a unique multipurpose feature that Operation Smile incorporated into the design in order to create a sensory experience so visitors can be immersed in various global environments and in the lives of actual patients. One such exhibit allows visitors to live through the story of a child with a cleft. The story will show how the child moves from a life with little hope to a life with a brighter future and dignity. Exhibits also will show how Operation Smile has evolved over the years and demonstrate future goals.

“It is an educationally focused building,” said Jessica Kraft, director of public relations of Operation Smile. The move from Norfolk, its present location, to Virginia Beach will provide more space for these educational programs as well as for collaborative meetings.

“A key goal for Operation Smile,” explained Kraft, “is to build sustainability in our partner countries so that in-country medical personnel can provide year-round quality care for the thousands of children around the world who suffer from cleft lips and cleft palates.”

In addition to providing medical services to children, the organization also contributes medical equipment and provides hands-on training for medical professionals in the partner countries.

Operation Smile, one of the world’s leading volunteer-based children’s medical charities, was founded in 1982 by Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee and has annual revenue of $67 million. CEG

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