Blending Form and Function

A new Readiness Center for the Connecticut Army National Guard promotes functional design aesthetics while enabling three aviation units previously dispersed throughout the state to co-locate at a single location.

  

By Charles M. Smith, M.SAME 

 


 
Connecticut ARNG project

To provide sufficient lighting and meet energy conservation goals, LED lighting was used throughout the building. The lighting was designed to reflect upward off the ceiling to provide a more pleasant and consistent distribution. To introduce natural daylight, a curved roof over the second floor administration area was raised and used to introduce a series of clerestory windows. PHOTOS BY DAVID SAILORS


 

One look at the new Army National Guard Readiness Center in Windsor Locks, Conn., and it is clear this is more than just a basic, utilitarian military building.

The center is architecturally distin­guished, flexible in function, and presents a professional and productive work environ­ment. It uses a combination of long, crisp lines, dynamic air foil forms and blends both traditional and modern materials.

The two-story, 110,000-ft² center, which opened in November 2013, consolidates three Army aviation units previously dispersed throughout the state. The complex also includes a 9,345-ft² storage building and a 300-ft² control facility. The buildings, all within the Connecticut Army National Guard cantonment area at Bradley International Airport, support more than 300 citizen-soldiers.

The Readiness Center includes office and administration space, conference and training space, an assembly hall, medical clinic, learning center, mobility and unit equipment storage, full-service kitchen, fitness center, a weapons training simulator, and locker and shower facilities.

The facilities will primarily be used for National Guard support services, such as training for pilots, physicals and medical certifications, and office space for support personnel. The complex creates a quality professional environment and by bringing everybody together in one location, it is much more efficient than how the Guard was previously operating.

Parsons Brinckerhoff served as architect and engineer for the project, working with the contractor, Walsh Company, on behalf of the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office, the Connecticut National Guard, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

 

FLEXIBLE FUNCTIONALITY

As part of the initial project program­ming, building users expressed a need for a sense of openness in the facility to promote collaboration and productivity. The design team re-evaluated the roof structure over the assembly hall and introduced a barrel vault into the assembly hall atrium, creating an appropriate scale for the space and bring­ing in daylight. The curved roof exposes the structure, expressing features often associ­ated with aeronautical forms, and reinforces the stated goal of an architecturally distin­guished facility that creates a professional and productive work environment.

The main entry vestibule was oriented to the east to address the main path of pedestrian circulation, significantly increasing the functionality of the second floor. Mechanical spaces for two areas were combined to achieve greater daylighting and views for the interior spaces, provide a more efficient and functional mechani­cal room, remove noise impact from the administration area, and allow a more open and organized plan. An open bullpen area minimizes wasted floor space, is more flex­ible, and allows for additional windows in the open office area.

 

ENSURING SUSTAINABILITY

Creative applications to tried-and-true practices have added function and aesthetic value to the Readiness Center, are expected to help the project achieve LEED Silver certification. Raised access flooring and demountable partitions for the office space, for example, minimized cost while maximizing efficiency as they allow for simple reconfigurations as the needs of the National Guard change.

This flexibility ensures that the build­ing will be able to respond to and support mission changes long into the future. To provide sufficient lighting and meet energy conservation goals, LED lighting was used throughout the building. The lighting was designed to reflect upward off the ceiling to provide a more pleasant and consistent distribution of light. To introduce natural daylight, a curved roof over the second floor administration area was raised and used to introduce a series of clerestory windows. The lighting can be controlled based on the natural light from the outside, which allows the center to use significantly less energy for lighting purposes during the daytime hours. The facility also incorporates a hydronic radiant flooring system, which modulates the building temperature and provides a snow melt system for the exterior walkways that increases safety and reduces long-term maintenance costs. The systems also elimi­nate the need to use corrosive salts, which are incompatible with aviation activities.

 

HANDLING NOISE CONTROL

As a support facility for the aviation battalion, compliance with noise control regulations regarding building construction materials and interior spaces is critical. Jet noise from arriving and departing aircraft on a nearby runway would be detrimental to the administrative functions and comfort level of people inside the building.

To address these issues and ensure the project was in compliance with regulations, an acoustical study was conducted prior to construction to measure existing noise conditions and to guide the project team in designing a suitable building. Various airport noise sources were measured individually. Cumulative noise levels were measured during more active times of day. The results led to selection of appropriate exterior wall façade materials and windows to ensure acceptable acoustical conditions.

Acoustics specialists also conducted predictive studies and made recommenda­tions for the building interior so that indoor speech intelligibility and communication effectiveness goals were met. This effort focused on the large training auditorium in which acoustical absorption treatments were specified to control reverberation noise within the space. The results have yielded a very pleasant acoustic environment.

 

VISUALIZING THE RESULT

The use of building information model­ing (BIM) techniques and conflict resolu­tion software helped the National Guard to visualize what it could achieve with the new building. BIM was employed to create a 3D model that showed exactly how the building would look when constructed. This enabled the project team to examine any aspect of the structure for conflicts and errors while the work was being done.

Interference conflict software helped pinpoint where conflicts in the plans might be occurring. Each week, all stakehold­ers met for a webinar to look at potential conflicts, then collaborated to find a solution before construction began. This minimized the need for rework in the field—helping keep the project on schedule and within budget.

Connecticut ARNG project
The new Connecticut Army National Guard Readiness Center in Windsor Locks, Conn., consolidates three Army aviation units previously dispersed throughout the state. The main building was constructed on an existing aircraft apron, directly adjacent to an active taxiway. 


 

SAFETY AND SECURITY

The main building was constructed on the existing aircraft apron, directly adjacent to an active taxiway. The design-build team coordinated early with the Connecticut Department of Transportation to establish a boundary fence that maintained construc­tion operations on the “landside” of the site.

Safety and security requirements were of the upmost importance during construc­tion.Communication of crane operations during steel erection, maintenance of the perimeter fence line and strict control of construction debris were three particular actions that the Walsh Company performed to eliminate accidents and minimize impacts to runway operations.

 

BUILDING READINESS

This $30 million Connecticut Army National Guard project demonstrates that practical design can incorporate highly aesthetic elements and create an inviting atmosphere while serving a functional purpose, adding value, and staying within a tight budget.

The new center will enable the citizen-soldiers of the state of Connecticut to more effectively and efficiently achieve a desired state of readiness for many years to come.

 


 

Charles M. Smith, M.SAME, is Principal in Charge, Parsons Brinckerhoff; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..