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Hensel Phelps Leads Charge for New Fort Bragg Commands

Tue October 06, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law was passed by Congress. With BRAC, the Department of Defense reorganized its installation infrastructure in order to more effectively and efficiently support its forces. As a result of this law, operational readiness would increase and allow for innovation in doing business. A major change that has occurred under BRAC involves moving two commands, U.S. Armed Forces Command (FORSCOM) and the U.S. Army Reserve Command from Fort McPherson, in Atlanta, to Fort Bragg, in Fayetteville, N.C. The new Command Headquarters complex is currently under construction at Fort Bragg.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Command Headquarters complex was held December 8, 2008, and construction began in February 2009. The building will house both commands, but they will remain separate. According to Billy Birdwell, Public Affairs Specialist, Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), “The construction will place the two commands in one building with two major parts — one for each command.”

On this project, the USACE is providing a full range of services. The Savannah District did extensive planning and put together the procurement plan and project team. They will oversee the contract, ensure safety, supervise quality assurance, monitor construction progress and make progress payments.

“One of the largest roles we play is issue resolution,” explained Birdwell. “Issues that arise during the design and construction process must be resolved in a manner that mitigates any cost or time impacts to the process.”

The project is considered a fast-track design/build project, which generally means a faster construction process and better costs on materials as the prices are locked in. “Fast-Track means completion and approval of early parts of the design to allow construction on those pieces to begin ahead of the completion of the rest of the design,” stated Daniel Davis, the on-site resident engineer and administrative contracting officer, USACE. “We have to manage design and construction at the same time.”

Hensel Phelps Construction Company, Chantilly, Va., is the prime contractor on this $290-million contract, which includes design services, site demolition and preparation, construction of utility infrastructure and roughly 700,000-sq.-ft. (65,032 sq m) of Command Headquarters office space, which has been described as similar to a corporate office-type building in the private sector. In addition, four information technology (IT) buildings and an energy plant will be built as part of the contract. The construction site covers a total of 57 acres (22.8 ha) on the Army base.

In addition to Hensel Phelps, the project team includes Fentress Architects, Denver, the lead architect providing much of the design services. Phelps self-performs about 20 percent of the work, and the rest is done by subcontractors. There are 30 subcontractors working on the project including Gaines Construction, LLC, Knightdale, N.C., performing excavation and utility work, and Carolina Steel & Stone Inc., Charlotte, N.C., doing steel erection. Another subcontractor is Tri-State Erectors Inc., Oxford, N.C., which is installing precast exterior skin.

The headquarters facility will have six stories including a basement with approximately 100,000 sq. ft. (9,290 sq m) per floor. It will be situated on a 34-acre (13.6 ha) site and contain two command suites, each having a private terrace, and directorate general office suites. There will also be special staff areas, video teleconferencing areas and operations centers including information network operations centers. The headquarters design also features storage areas for maps/drawings and storage and staging areas for equipment. Other amenities are a theater, meeting rooms, a law library, open office areas, waiting area, passenger elevators, a loading dock and a ceremonial display lobby.

The exterior of the buildings will be made of precast concrete stand up panels and brick-panel veneer, which have preset bricks imbedded in them. The appearance of the buildings will be brick and mortar with precast accents. The materials were selected in order to have the new construction blend in with the historic district of Fort Bragg.

A unique aspect of the design that is considered a “green” building feature is the under-floor air distribution system. Installed under raised floors, this type of air distribution system will improve the air quality and the comfort of the occupant by allowing the occupant to control air flow. Ventilation efficiency is improved with this type of system, and it reduces energy use. The raised floor also allows for flexibility for future reconfiguration of the building.

The construction contract calls for all new structures except for the renovation of a portion of the existing Control Info Tech Building. “There were some empty WWII wooden buildings and post-WWII buildings on the headquarter’s site that were demolished before the start of the contract,” Davis explained.

Phase One of the project is scheduled for completion on February 23, 2010, and consists of building the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC), the Directorate of Information Management (DOIM) Administrative Building and the Installation Processing Node (IPN). Site work and site utilities, including water, sewer, power and communications outside of the building are finished. Foundations have been poured and some structural steel framing has been done.

The DRC, similar to disaster recovery centers in the private sector, is located at Camp Mackall and will have up to 18,000 sq. ft. (1,620 sq m) of administrative and computer processing space. Currently, the building is dried in and the in-wall electrical and plumbing installations are ongoing. Under-floor plumbing, electrical, and telecommunications installations are underway as well. The contractor also is in the process of installing interior door frames and metal stud framing. Topsoil is being placed in preparation for the final grade of the building site.

The DOIM Administrative Building will consist of a maximum of 15,000 sq. ft. (1,350 sq m) of administrative space. Davis stated, “The erection of structural steel is almost completed.”

The IPN building is a multi-story, above-grade building that will contain up to 36,000 sq. ft. (3,240 sq m) of administrative and computer processing space. The building is dried in and window installation has started. Workers also are in the process of installing interior overhead ductwork, piping and electrical. Additionally, in-wall electrical, plumbing, and HVAC controls are being put in place. Finally, work on metal stud framing and gypsum wall board is on-going.

All remaining aspects of this project, not included in Phase I, are scheduled to be finished on June 21, 2011. This includes the Central Energy Plant, which has the same work already completed as the aforementioned IPN building. The Central Energy Plant will serve the Main Headquarters building and the IPN building. The plant will provide heating and cooling for the headquarters and will contain boilers, chillers, cooling towers and a loading dock.

The Control Info Tech Building includes an addition to and renovation of Fort Bragg’s existing one-story IT building. An expanded telecommunications switching system with associated cabling terminus will be located in this structure. The contract calls for adding up to 4,000 sq. ft. (360 sq m) of new space for communications equipment and renovating up to 3,000 sq. ft. (270 sq m) in the existing IT equipment space. Currently, exterior walls on the addition are nearly complete and the roof trusses are being fabricated, with installation beginning shortly thereafter. Interior wall metal stud framing is ongoing in the renovated portion of the building.

Additional progress on the project includes ongoing work on the Headquarters Building with the placing of structural steel and metal decking. Construction of the 10 acres (4 ha) of parking accommodations continues with rough grading. Curb and gutter work began in September and the base course of asphalt will be placed in October. Additional site work consists of sidewalks, storm drainage, erosion control, retention basins and landscaping.

Earthmoving on the project site is considered “large scale excavation.” Adam Rogers, project manager for Hensel Phelps, estimates that 60,000 cu. yds. (45,600 cu m) of dirt will be excavated. The site is considered a “balanced site” because all excavated materials will be used throughout the site.

“The focus was to have a balanced site,” explained Rogers, “and not have to transport material off site.” Any excess material will be used in various ways, such as landscaping or as a berm around a building for extra protection.

Currently, there are approximately 40 pieces of heavy equipment on the job site. The number of pieces has peaked at 60 so far, but since earthwork has slowed down, some heavy equipment has been removed. Equipment being used on the job consists of loaders, a Cat 953 and a Volvo L90, and trackhoes, a Cat 330 and a Cat 326. A Volvo 25-ton (22.5 t) end dump is on hand as well as a Cat 621 scraper. Rogers also listed D5, D6 and D8 Cat dozers as having been used on the job in addition to pump trucks. Rough terrain cranes, including a 60-ton (54 t) Grove, are on hand for structural concrete placing. Heavy cranes, such as a Link-Belt 120-ton (108 t) and a Link-Belt 200-ton (180 t), have been performing steel erection.

Some challenging aspects of this project include the construction deadlines, the layout of the site and the logistics of bringing the two commands together. BRAC requires FORSCOM to be completely moved to Fort Bragg by September 15, 2011.

“The project team had to create an aggressive schedule” to meet the BRAC deadline, said Catherine Bingham, project manager, USACE Fort Bragg Team. Despite that, the project remains on schedule.

Bingham describes the project area as a “compressed site” being bound on all sides by various obstacles. The contractor has to be cautious because the project site has a school building to the south, a historic polo field to the west, World War II-era buildings still in use to the north, and a housing development to the east. Also, as a courtesy, pedestrians trying to navigate around the construction zone should find the walking distance as minimal as possible. This is tricky because it “eats into the utilization of space,” said Bingham.

Rogers added that the compressed site is a large site, but the challenge is that the majority of the site is being utilized for the facility. His solution: daily coordination with team members and subcontractors and building a schedule together. The coordination allows for easier movement of large pieces of equipment. “Equipment is moved out of the way so that the next piece of equipment can come along,” he stated.

Another difficult aspect of the project is bringing two totally separate commands under one roof, all the while trying to keep a balance between the two commands. “The commands are great at working together and working with us to come up with a successful team,” exclaimed Bingham. “The Army, Hensel Phelps, Fort Bragg are all doing a great job.”

Presently, Fort Bragg has a population of 54,000 soldiers and 10,500 civilians. At the end of this project, the soldier population will remain about the same while the number of civilians will increase by 2,500 because of the move. CEG

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