When Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) requirements made Scott Air Force Base (AFB), Ill., the global hub for mobility aircraft and ground supplies, the need for a new and improved logistics support center at the base became immediately necessary.
Scott AFB planners and contractors faced several challenges in building the new Mobility Air Force Logistics Support Center (MAFLSC), including completing the new facility under a very tight deadline, balancing requirements for sustainable design and development with heightened facility security and complying with the base’s architectural requirements.
Challenges and Solutions
The project’s most significant challenge was time: With a lease set to expire on an existing building, occupants had to move into the new facility within 14 months. The solution was to use the design-build delivery method, in which one contractor oversees facility design and construction, eliminating the middle step of going to bid for construction quotes. Though design-build is a method far more typical of civilian projects, the military began employing the process several years ago, largely as a result of BRAC’s requirements for swift consolidation of bases and services.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Louisville District, which handles engineering projects for Scott AFB, awarded the $8.1 million design-build contract to K&S Assoc. Inc., which partnered with Woolpert Inc. Woolpert provided the facility and landscape architecture; structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and civil engineering; and interior design for the two-story, 34,000-ft2 building.
With USACE in an oversight role, the design-build process empowered the project team to handle most decisions. Because of the inherent flexibility and streamlined coordination built into the process, project participants modified plans and worked through challenges with relative ease.
The team worked in Autodesk’s Revit building information modeling and Civil 3D site design software toolkits. The Autodesk products enabled the team to identify design issues early on, quickly make “global” changes and consistently communicate with all project stakeholders.
The Woolpert-assigned project manager and several other team members had attained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation through the U.S. Green Building Council, an important consideration given the U.S. Air Force Sustainable Design and Development policy memorandum, which calls for military construction to be capable of achieving LEED certification.
The project team proposed a design equivalent to LEED Certified while achieving the project requirements and budget. The team identified and incorporated sustainable design strategies to make the most efficient use of available land and resources while designing a facility that would be economical to build and operate, and that would enhance the future occupants’ health and productivity.
The facility is located on the north end of the main campus, near the original logistics center, the Officers’ Club, the base hospital and the Air Force Communications Agency. Engineers had evaluated the location for proximity to the existing logistics center; flexibility for future growth; impact on farmland, floodplains, wildlife habitats and water bodies; development density and connectivity to the base as a whole; and proximity to public and alternative transportation.
The site and building were laid out to allow a future addition to connect to and extend the corridors and central circulation system. The design-build process enabled the team to produce an early site package so all earthwork and underground utilities could begin construction before the overall building design was complete.
The landscape architect incorporated drought-resistant native plants, eliminating the need for permanent irrigation. High-efficiency, low-flow plumbing fixtures and occupant sensors were used conserve water and reduce utility costs.
Security and Sustainability
The facility itself needed to accommodate up to 200 personnel, requiring secure workspaces including a commander’s suite, offices and cubicles, conference rooms, training rooms, secure Internet operations and break rooms.
The design also needed to adhere to the Scott AFB Architectural Compatibility Guide. As a result, Woolpert architects designed the facility to have a corporate military appearance consistent with other buildings in the area. The design achieves a smooth architectural transition between the formal Officers’ Club and modern office buildings to the south by incorporating architectural wing walls, cast stone parapets and a standing seam metal roof. The functional appearance of the facility is clearly that of a modern office building.
To support 24-hour functions and to conduct classified communication with worldwide units, the facility’s design required large, interactive workspaces to allow logistics staff to coordinate with each other and to view flat-panel monitors.
Woolpert’s architects created a design that provides flexibility for the future by creating large, open areas on both floors of the building, with workstations and power poles that can be adjusted as needed. The mechanical and electrical infrastructure was sized for easy additions.
LEED requirements and modern building design called for large, energy-efficient windows to let in natural light. Large windows on the north and south ends of the building and glass curtainwall systems on the east and west sides of the building were part of the original concept and important for the client, so it was never an option to eliminate them. However, large windows are a liability with regard to acts of terrorism.
In order to design a glazing and stud-framing system that was constructible and maintained its visual qualities, the design team calculated blast loads and determined what types of materials to use. The calculations resulted in additional steel reinforcement in the window mullions and additional anchors around the perimeter of the windows. The windows themselves are thermally broken, aluminum-framed type, with tinted low-E dual-pane glass. The inner pane consists of two layers of glass laminated to a sheet of reinforcing plastic to minimize risk of injury due to flying glass debris.
In addition to exterior wall design, the overall building design had to comply with Department of Defense antiterrorism and force protection guidelines, which required significant analysis and coordination to implement. Analysis is based on acceptable risk to occupants and advanced dynamic analysis of the building envelope.
Designers reduced the amount of energy that the facility would require by:
- verifying the systems performed according to project requirements;
- designing the building to American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)/Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Standard 90.1, which establishes minimum required levels of energy efficiency; and
- specifying zero use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC)-based refrigerants in the HVAC and refrigeration systems.
Energy performance was optimized to a level 41.5 percent greater than an ASHRAE standard building design through a combination of the building envelope, HVAC systems and light fixtures. Wall and roof insulation was increased.
High-performance equipment used in the facility’s design included gas-fired, high-efficiency boilers for heating hot water; air-cooled chillers; central-station air-handling units; variable air volume terminal units to provide zone temperature control; and a direct digital temperature control system for the HVAC operation.
Indoor Environmental Quality
The ventilation system was balanced to optimize energy efficiency and occupant health, exceeding minimum outdoor air ventilation rates. Airflow measurement equipment is tied to the Building Automation System in order to identify problems and trigger corrective action.
An indoor air quality plan was developed to protect the HVAC system during construction and control pollutant sources—an action that helped both construction workers and, later, building occupants. The HVAC system itself was designed to meet the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 55-2004, enhancing the comfort and productivity of facility occupants.
Additionally, all adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, carpet and composite wood products were specified to meet volatile organic compound limits.
The design-build approach shortened acquisition time, allowing work to proceed and construction funds to be obligated early on. It also allowed best practices from private industry to be applied. Furthermore, it put more accountability on the project team so the owner wasn’t responsible for the coordination between the designer and the builder.
A limitation of the design-build approach is that it does not allow much time for owner input during design However, with a strong partnership between the government and the contractors, the challenging project was successfully executed, on time and on budget. The new MAFLSC at Scott AFB is LEED certifiable and meets or exceeds the military’s high standards for building safety and security and the base’s architectural requirements.