•  Carrier

Achieving Aesthetics and Functionality

Facility upgrades at Marine Corps Base Quantico deliver functional efficiencies while honoring its historical significance with a sense of place and appropriate design enhancements.

When called upon to provide designbuild services for a new Officer Candidate School headquarters building and mess hall relocation and upgrade at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico, Va., the design team responded with an efficient, sustainable and aesthetically pleasing plan that exceeded expectations for facility improvements at this historically venerable site. The upgrades also created more functionality across parts of the base layout, which should prove beneficial in recouping training time otherwise lost traversing the installation.

Serving as Designer of Record under design-build prime contract holder and general contractor, Sauer Inc., VOA Associates Inc. provided architecture, interior design and LEED administration for the $17 million Naval Facilities Engineering Command project.


Wilson Hall, new home to the MCB Quantico Officer Candidate School, is named after former Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. Louis H. Wilson, Medal of Honor winner for heroic actions fighting enemy forces during World War II. PHOTOS COURTESY VOA ASSOCIATES INC.

The project’s main component, the new 13,024-ft² Officer Candidate School headquarters, located on Brown Field, was dedicated May 4, 2012. It is named Wilson Hall in honor of the late Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. Louis H. Wilson, Medal of Honor winner for heroic actions fighting enemy forces at Fonte Hill, Guam, in the Mariana Islands during World War II.

The relocated and expanded 29,000-ft² mess hall, named after Marine Corps 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo—a Medal of Honor recipient (posthumously) for conspicuous gallantry during the Vietnam War—provides food service functions for approximately 2,500 students, instructors and visitors with 734 permanent seats. Each facility is on track to receive LEED Silver certification by the Green Building Certification Institute.

Both facilities feature the classic, Georgian architectural theme that prevails throughout MCB Quantico. They are defined by stately hallmarks that include a red brick façade with white trim, formal entrances, dormers, double-sash paned windows and simple rectangular building masses. The new headquarters facility anchors the north end of the Officer Candidate School campus. The mess hall anchors what can now be defined as the south end.


As part of the design charrette—which involved representatives from the design team, government and the Officer Candidate School Cadre—the front of the mess hall was reoriented to face the campus with a large plaza for officer candidates to assemble. This setup better defines the campus limits. At the same time, it more easily allows for future follow-on projects by creating a pedestrian spine through the campus that will connect all of the Officer Candidate School barracks, training, command and support areas.

The interiors of the headquarters building were allowed to feature a higher quality of furnishings and finishes than is normally specified for government facilities. The intent was to convey a sense of formality and grandeur deemed appropriate for this unique command facility. Its main lobby and inside corridors were designed as classically elegant spaces, with fine wood paneling, checkerboard flooring, arched openings and crown-molded ceilings. Meticulous built-in cabinetry in the lobby provides a fitting background for the display of Gen. Wilson’s Medal of Honor and the other personal artifacts on permanent loan from the family. In addition to housing the command functions for the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School, the headquarters includes a barber shop and small exchange.

Sustainability played a key role during design of Wilson Hall. Energy saving features consist of high thermally efficient walls and windows and roof systems that include an air barrier system designed to meet the newly required 0.25 CFM at 75 Pa/SF standard. The facility is heated and cooled by a unique geothermal loop with vertical underground heat exchange wells serving water-cooled heat pumps.

The Officer Candidate School campus is located on the west side of a highly utilized, major railroad corridor that splits the campus from the gymnasium and other recreational facilities.


Bobo Hall, the new mess hall at MCB Quantico, has been relocated to the south end of campus and situated so that student formations flow simply to and from training areas before and after meals.

Devising the new mess hall’s location at the south end of the campus met many functional requirements. Previously all students were marched to a remote location over a pedestrian bridge crossing a major railroad corridor. That older dining facility has since been demolished as part of the project. With the relocation and upgrade of the mess hall, students no longer will have to march as far and their time will be better utilized. Since the site for the mess hall was previously used for material staging with some forested areas, it needed to be cleared of what remained of dense woods and brush. The design team addressed very poor soil bearing pressures with a deep foundation system, unlike at the headquarters site at the north end where a shallow foundation system was utilized.

The mess hall has a large outdoor paved courtyard at its entrance that is used by instructors to assemble the students for administrative functions prior to entering and exiting. This courtyard faces north towards the remaining campus, allowing student formations to flow simply from training areas to and from the dining facility. With this movement typically happening three times per day, considerable training time is saved with a more efficient layout.

The building is a single-story Georgian style with a central portico flanked by four massive white columns on either side. To help with the massive job of providing approximately 3,000 servings per meal, students can select any one of the four serving lines, which include on-line grill stations and hot entrée, vegetables and cold food selections. Each serving area includes a full salad bar and beverage line that is positioned for easy replenishment from the dining areas. The serving counters are designed to have a more commercial and less institutional appearance to enhance what is sometimes a very rushed dining experience.

Energy saving features for the mess hall include using the same efficient building envelope as that of the headquarters building, with additional roof mounted photovoltaic and domestic water solar panels. It is projected that both buildings will save approximately 30 percent overall energy cost from the base design.


The town of Quantico has a rich history tracing back to the mid-1600s. Its name derived from an Indian word meaning “by the large stream” in reference to the Potomac River that flows along the town’s edge. MCB Quantico, established in 1917, completely surrounds the small town and has optimized Marine Corps readiness by providing operational and training support ever since.

Facilities such as the new mess hall and Officer Candidate School headquarters building may be just part of the fabric of this historic installation. But as such they also become part of the process that helps evaluate and train the more than 2,500 Marine Corps officer candidates that annually come through its doors.

Ted G. Fery, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, M.SAME, is Principal, VOA Associates Inc.; 407-541-0203, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..