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New Army Reserve Center Supports Soldiers, Meets Anti-Terrorism Standards

The 17-acre facility is built to withstand a host of hostile situations.

Tue September 17, 2013 - National Edition
Cindy Riley

A new Army Reserve Center constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers is now home to members of the 518th Sustainment Brigade in Knightdale, N.C. The $19 million structure had to meet anti-terrorism and force protection requirements. As a result, the building features blast windows and doors, restricted vehicle access and minimum vehicular standoff distances.

“The soldiers are very happy to be in their new Reserve Center, which was designed to support their training and operational requirements,” said Col. Joseph Roberts, director of public works for the 81st Regional Support Command in Fort Jackson, S.C. “They can focus on their mission and know that they have a modern facility that supports their needs.”

The two-story, 81,072 sq. ft. (7,531.8 sq m) building near Raleigh, N.C., will house hundreds of soldiers, their families and support personnel. In June, a ribbon cutting ceremony took place to formally unveil the structure.

“This facility was needed to support a new Army Reserve unit standing up under the Department of Defense’s Grow the Force initiative announced in 2007,” said Roberts. “As the active Army gained new brigade combat teams, the Army Reserve gained new units as part of the Army’s accompanying Combat Service Support Reset Initiative. The Army Reserve needed to provide adequate facilities to support the new units.”

Officials held an official groundbreaking in December 2010, with an original move-in date of 2012. While awaiting their new digs, soldiers were placed in temporary housing, as crews worked on the highly anticipated project.

“The 17-acre site required extensive earthwork because of the sloping terrain and the deep excavations required for the installation of water, sewer and storm drain utilities,” said Fermin Borrero, general engineer of the U.S. Army. “Large concrete reinforced retaining walls were needed and required in order to build up the project site and level the terrain for building construction.”

According to Borrero, the facility is LEED Silver Certifiable. Through the combined efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacobs Engineering and the building contractor, the structure will ultimately save energy, use fewer resources, reduce pollution and contribute to healthier environments for the occupants and the local community.

The new building features solar panel collectors with a closed loop heat exchanger for heating domestic hot water. Recycled materials were incorporated into the construction, and all construction waste generated was recycled as much as possible to keep it out of the landfill. A high-efficiency heating and cooling system was installed, along with an advanced lighting control system and space occupancy sensors.

For general contractor CopperTop Ledcor JV in Beaufort, N.C., there were a number of challenges during construction.

“One of the main concerns was encountering rock in quantities far greater than anticipated,” said Jeff Williams, project manager. “This precipitated several months of negotiations and six months of blasting. There were also forty-five change orders that had to be negotiated and executed over the course of the project.”

Although the first winter during construction was colder than average, with many days below freezing and more snow than normal for the area, Williams said weather did not pose a significant problem. However, the timing of the assignment was an issue.

“The biggest single challenge was the fact that this job was bid in the spring of 2010 when many contractors were bidding to try and keep cash flow going, thus, the pricing was very low,” said Williams. “This left the subcontractors, and us, with little or no margin to deal with the eventualities of construction. This was compounded by the fact that the Army did not own the site at the time of award, delaying the start of the project for five months.”

The documentation alone was no small feat, according to Williams.

“The quality control reports, at project completion, filled 100 bankers boxes. The submittals took up 200 square feet of floor space on shelves that were six feet tall.”

Early work on the project included a timber harvest of the property. Crews drilled and blasted 50,000 cu. yds. (38,227.7 cu m) of rock. Construction of a 1,700 ft. (518.2 m) long retaining wall, a cut and fill of 60,000 cu. yds. (45,873.3 cu m) of material to level the site, and creation of three on-site storm water retention ponds with a surface area of approximately two acres were other necessary preparations.

Site work consisted of placing the clay liner and gabion walls in the storm water retention basins, placement of concrete for the curb and gutter, placement of ABC stone and preparation of subgrade in parking areas. Installation of topsoil in green space areas was necessary.

Along with perimeter fencing of chain link and tubular aluminum, crews had to complete security gates with access control. Construction included on-going installation of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire sprinkler systems, as well as substantial portions of the exterior curtain wall system and interior finishes and doors.

In total, three buildings were constructed including the training center featuring a steel frame, masonry exterior, a light gauge metal frame and air barrier and a standing seam metal roof. Interior space includes offices, classrooms, an assembly hall, kitchen, exercise area, locker rooms and storage.

A 10,000 sq. ft. (929 sq m) single-story operation building was constructed for vehicle maintenance, parts storage, tool storage and offices. In addition, a single-story unheated storage building more than 4,000 sq. ft. (371.6 sq m) was built. A ramp providing easy loading and unloading of materials and equipment from vehicles — a task considered critical to the mobility unit’s mission — was built on the premises.

Many pieces of equipment were used on the project, including several John Deere excavators and specifically a 330 excavator, a Cat D8, D6, and D4 bulldozer, rock drills, a Cat grader, John Deere and Ford backhoes, JLG scissor lifts (up to 28 at a time), JLG boom lifts, a 50-ton (45.4 t) hydraulic crane, a Reach forklift to 10,000 lbs. (4,535.9 kg), and asphalt equipment. Approximately 900 tons (816.4 t) of structural steel was used on the job, along with blast resistant glass, split face masonry block, gypsum board and light gauge metal framing.

C & C Construction Services was responsible for providing all labor, materials and equipment to install site sidewalks, equipment pads, heavy-duty concrete paving and the heavy-duty concrete loading ramp structure.

“All items in our scope of work were held to standards and specifications set by the United States Army Corps of Engineers,” said Thomas Theisen, services project manager of C & C Construction. “We began work on this project in April, 2012 and finished March, 2013.

More than 23,000 sq. ft. (2,136.8 sq m) of 4 in. (10.2 cm) thick sidewalks was required for the project that specifically included welded wire fabric reinforcement and 4,000 psi concrete material. Roughly 25,000 sq. ft. (2,322.5 sq m) of 7 in. (17.8 cm) thick heavy duty concrete paving was necessary. The paving was 4,000 psi (276 bar) 650 flexural strength mix, with four inches of compacted ABC stone underneath. Aging reinforcing steel was installed at 12 in. (30.5 cm) on center, each way.

“The loading ramp structure was the most complicated part of this project,” said Theisen. “It had several steps to completion. First, the loading ramp wall footings were excavated, reinforced and poured. Then the cast in place walls were reinforced, formed and poured. Once this was the done, we had to backfill the inside of the walls with #57 stone. Once the backfill was completed, we could finally reinforce and pour the ramp slab that sat on top of the backfilled stone and cast in place walls.”

Equipment used for the various tasks included S205 Bobcat skid steer loaders, Bomag 56-in. (142.3 cm) 11,000 lb. (4,989.5 kg) single drum rollers, all terrain construction forklifts and concrete pump trucks.

Approximately 1,200 cu. yds. (917.5 cu m) of concrete was poured. The scope of work also involved tying 25 tons (22.7 t) of reinforcing steel, placing 30,000 sq. ft. (2,787.1 sq m) of welded wire fabric reinforcing, and installing and compacting 1,000 tons (907.2 t) of ABC stone.

“The biggest challenge on this project was making sure all work and materials we installed were in accordance exactly per plans and specifications, which were inspected meticulously by the Army Corps of Engineers, third party inspectors and onsite quality control management provided by the general contractor,” said Theisen. “With multiple inspections lasting up to one hour long each, there was no room for error. It either had to be exactly per plan, or everything had to be ripped out and re-done.”

Theisen said the condition of the job site didn’t help matters. Crews would encounter solid rock while excavating. Rocks that were too large had to be removed using dynamite. Workers used an excavator with a chipping hammer attachment to remove the solid rock.

The most time consuming part of the assignment was the paperwork the project demanded, according to Theisen. Daily equipment inspections were conducted on each individual piece of equipment. Other requirements included superintendent logs, daily safety logs and weekly toolbox talks. Any company that failed to turn these documents in the following morning would be reprimanded.

“It was an honor to be able to complete this project from start to end, knowing that your individual efforts were contributing to the success of not just another building, but the United States Army,” said Theisen.

“Our team kept those men and women in our minds every step of the way,” said Williams. “Seeing the excitement and happiness on the faces of the soldiers at the ribbon cutting ceremony was the greatest reward.

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