EVERY YEAR, DES MOINES, Iowa–based Bloodgood Sharp Buster Architects & Planners (BSB) holds an internal design contest among its offices across the country. Used as a way to foster healthy competition, the event has new meaning this year. Instead of a fictitious client, the winning house will be built for Seamark Ranch, a faith-based orphanage in Jacksonville, Fla.

“This is a big step for our firm,” says Deryl Patterson, an architect with BSB's Jacksonville office. “In the past, each office did localized charity, but this is the first time it is being done on a national level.”

Located on 468 acres, the orphanage will have multiple residential homes with separate housing for boys and girls ranging in age from 6 to 18. It will also have transitional homes for children who turn 18 but aren't ready to leave Sea-mark. The firm says the children will live in buildings that feel more like homes than institutions.

When BSB held the design competition last year, Seamark Ranch's executive director Keith Denton, who was one of the judges, selected an entry from a team consisting of members from the Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville, Fla., offices to build the Seamark Ranch house. Construction of the boys' home is scheduled to begin later this year, but a girls' home is also in the works, Patterson says. “I think it is the most uplifting work we have ever done,” she adds.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Des Moines, IA.