A brand-new Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) is taking shape at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The design/build construction project was awarded to Hensel Phelps Construction Company in June 2011. The project will be built to achieve LEED Silver certification, and is fully appropriated through the National Defense Authorization Act.
The 17-acre site (plus two-acre wetland development) will include a campus-style building complex, including a headquarters building, process/support area, radiochemistry laboratory/cleanrooms, parking garage, and a central utility plant. Following construction of the new facility, the existing AFTAC headquarters building will be demolished.
“The Air Force Technical Applications Center, located at Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach, Fla., provides national authorities quality technical measurements to monitor nuclear treaty compliance,” said Susan A. Romano, director of public affairs for the AFTAC. “The center develops advanced proliferation monitoring technologies to preserve our nation’s security. To accomplish that mission, AFTAC operates and maintains a global network of nuclear event detection sensors called the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System, or USAEDS (pronounced use-aids). Once the USAEDS senses a disturbance underground, underwater in the atmosphere or in space, the event is analyzed for nuclear identification and the findings are reported to national command authorities through Headquarters Air Force.
Site preparation for the project began in January 2012, and the beneficial occupancy date is scheduled for January 2014. The contract calls for a 276,000 sq. ft. (25,641sq m) headquarters facility, a 38,000 sq. ft. (3,530 sq m) radiochemistry analysis laboratory, a 23,000 sq. ft. (2,136 sq m) central utility plant, and a five-story parking garage. The hardened facility will be able to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.
“Despite some tropical storms that came through Central Florida during the summer months of 2012, the project is currently on schedule,” Romano said. “Weather can sometimes be the biggest hindrance in Central Florida, especially during hurricane season, but Hensel Phelps established work-around solutions to make up for lost time due to inclement weather.”
Romano noted that, since January 2012, more than 7,000 20-ton dump trucks that imported fill dirt, a total of 140,000 cu. yds. (107,037 cu m), made a one-way, 20-mi. trip through Brevard County without incident and in sync with the federal installation through entry control points. The fill dirt was used to raise the foundation to the proper elevation. In addition, 350 tons (317 t) of steel were delivered to the site.
“They completed all Environmental Compliance requirements and permits with St. Johns River Water Management for the Wetland Mitigation Project prior to start of vertical construction,” she said. “Partners worked together to accomplish the construction and environmental monitoring criteria to complete the permit goals.”
Romano reported that in Fiscal Year 2011, this project was the largest dollar-value Military Construction (MILCON) project in the U.S. Air Force.
“The radiochemistry lab is unique,” she said. “There is no other lab like it in the Department of Defense. The U.S. Government (USG) for its nuclear treaty obligations and the national technical nuclear forensics effort relies on the fusion of information from credible sources to identify radiological or nuclear materials, devices and/or debris. These sources include law enforcement agencies, intelligence information and defense agencies. The Air Force — and AFTAC in particular — offers capabilities that other civilian agencies cannot, such as the WC-135, an airborne platform that collects particulates and gaseous effluents and debris and laboratory management expertise.”
Romano noted that the facility meets the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program requirements for achieving an overall “Silver” rating. The major significance of that rating is a reduction of current energy use by nearly 20 percent.
The project is expected to create more than 200 local jobs while generating nearly $140 million to the local economy through subcontracting.
“Hensel Phelps has gone to great lengths to reach out to regional subcontractors to keep the project local to Central Florida,” Romano said.
Major subcontractors included Don Luchetti Construction, Melbourne, Fla., for site/civil; MC Dean, Tampa, Fla., for electrical/communications; CCK Corporation, Orlando, Fla., for concrete; Ivey’s Construction, Merritt Island, Fla. for steel erection; Critchfield Mechanical Systems, San Jose, Cal., for mechanical systems; Beyel Brothers, Orlando, Fla., for crane services; Affiliated Engineers Incorporated, Madison, Wis., for mechanical systems; Modern Plumbing, Winter Springs, Fla., for plumbing; and Steel Services Corporation, Jackson, Miss., for steel fabrication.
Major equipment used on the project includes a Manitowoc 888 crawler crane, a Manitowoc 999 crawler crane, a Link-Belt 90-ton (81-t) crane, a Link-Belt 65-ton (58-t) crane, a 200-ton (181-t) Kobelco hydraulic crawler crane CK2000-II; 32 M telescopic concrete pumps, 52 M telescopic concrete pumps, forklifts, and JLG high reach boom lifts.