Innovative, Integrated, In-House Designs
The in-house design teams of the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are producing highly effective, highly efficient designs for Military Construction and Civil Works projects.
By Garry Minter, RA
With skill, precision, innovation and integration the in-house design teams of the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are exceeding customers’ expectations. The teams are delivering high-quality sustainable projects and design services on time and within, or under, budget. An analysis completed by the district also showed that staying within budget was realized by a reduction in design modifications. Using the district’s in house design team has resulted in fewer design modifications, saving money.
The in-house design teams are responsible for preparing studies, reports, and designs of a wide range of building types in support of the district’s Military Construction and Civil Works missions and operate very similar to private sector design firms. The design team is composed of architects, interior designers, structural, mechanical, electrical and civil engineers, and computer-aided design technicians, all working in tandem designing from the ground up to the building’s summit. Included in the team that build the Army training facilities, are staff from the civil engineering branch.
Sustainability designs are also a key feature, tailored into each project. These factors, coupled with award-winning design strategies, mean the soldiers who train at the military facilities that the Louisville District designed, are well-prepared, trained and ready to support in national defense. “Customers—those military agencies for whom the district works—benefit tremendously and so do the soldiers that our work supports,” said Linda Murphy, Louisville Deputy District Engineer.
The in-house design teams are responsible for preparing studies, reports, and designs of a wide range of building types in support of the district’s Military Construction and Civil Works missions and operate very similar to private sector design firms.
EFFICIENCY OF DESIGN
Because of the focus on each component of design for their projects, some of the Army Reserve training facilities that have been designed by Louisville District’s in-house design teams can be constructed at costs even below the project authorization, a testimony to the efficiency of the designs.
This became especially evident on the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility project at Fort McCoy, Wisc., which subsequently served as an example for in-house design teams to emulate on future projects. Innovation is one of the key factors employed by the design team. In-house designers have introduced a new standard for building Army training facilities such as the one at Fort McCoy, by using Building Information Modeling software to design each building in the training environment. The building models, designed with Microstation Triforma, allow future projects to start with the function designs and modify them for a specific location, thereby saving design time and money. The models also enabled customers, project managers and other stakeholders to visualize the buildings. The resulting buildings are prototypes whose layout can be used on future training facilities.
Another factor that has continued to make the Louisville District’s in-house design team effective is that they function as an integrated staff to include the customer throughout the project.
Architects use Autorad Software and Revil to design buildings, further demonstrating the team’s capabilities. Designers do construction site vists to verify design and troubleshoot construction issues. They also visit already existing buildings, conduct interviews with those who will use the facilities, and use lessons learned. Even as the projects progress through construction, designers continue to be an integral part of the delivery process through a collective look at shop drawings, specification reviews and interpretations. Says Steve Thibaudeau, Louisville District Civil Engineer: “The process is totally integrated.”
NOTHING IS OVERLOOKED
USACE Louisville District’s in-house design teams have built a reputation for integrating outstanding design practices while including sustainability features. Its impact is evident in three project examples: the Pittsburgh Air Force Reserve Lodging Facility at Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility at Fort McCoy, and the Sustainment Brigade Administration Facility at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Penn. The Pittsburgh Air Force Reserve Lodging Facility was the first project in the Louisville District to achieve LEED Gold Certification. It is located at the Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, in Allegheny County, Moon Township, Penn. The facility is a $12.4 million, 50-room, 28,300-ft², three-story building that provides guest rooms for the 911th Airlift Wing and personnel on temporary duty at the Air Station. The design progressed logically from the existing facilities and complemented the rolling hills and topography. The challenge was to create and maximize the number of visiting quarters and business suites. The lodging master plan included design of three more buildings that had additional visiting quarters, and a dining building. Positioning the business suite balconies facing outward resulted in 40 sleeping rooms for each phase creating an exterior court for guests. Each building operates independently reducing utility costs when not occupied. Large trees and a rain garden make the property appealing. The entire complex is tied together with sidewalks, stairs, landscaping and low level site lighting making an impact on visitors. Energy efficient features include insulating concrete forms, 30 percent water use reduction by using low flow toilets, faucets and shower heads. The erosion and sediment control plan were more stringent than the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requires. Fuel efficient vehicle parking encouraged alternative transportation. Construction waste was managed to reduce material sent to landfills by 75 percent. Motion sensors turn off lights in unoccupied spaces while light controls enable occupants to select optimum lighting when and where needed.
Fort McCoy, Wisc. The Combined Arms Collective Training Facility at Fort McCoy provides a state-of-the-art training environment that replicates battlefield scenarios with a high degree of realism. While there are multiple areas on the base to train soldiers, this facility utilizes technology to simulate urban warfare. The structure takes training to another level. It can provide collective training for organizations as small as a squad or platoon size up to several battalions at the same time. The use of BIM allowed precise visualization of the training buildings before they were built.
Fort Campbell, Ky. The Sustainment Brigade Administration Facility at Fort Campbell, Ky., was designed by Louisville District’s in-house team with an energy efficient, water-saving, environmentally friendly approach, and its successful design features are utilized on similar regional projects. The design progression explored maximizing sustainable design features most suitable for the Fort Campbell region, which will be replicated on future projects. The design team worked to ensure no sustainable feature was overlooked. The structure showcases to all who process through the 101st Airborne and Fort Campbell, the superior capabilities of the Army facility of the future. Its green features include enhanced storm water management, geothermal HVAC, solar hot water, rainwater harvesting system and lighting design strategy. A photovoltaic panel system is in place where energy generated is returned to the electric grid rather than to facility's demand. In total, these features reduced the building's energy consumption by 50 percent.