•  Carrier


The Renovation of Building 197

For the men and women who worked on the renovation of Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters in the Washington Navy Yard, successful project delivery meant much more than just finishing on time and within budget.


By Lt. Cdr. Walter Sibley, P.E., CEC, USN, and Michelle Connor, P.E., PLS, M.SAME


NAVSEA headquarters re-opening



Employees of the Washington Navy Yard will never forget Sept. 16, 2013. The U.S. Navy will never forget the patriots who were lost that day when a gunman opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring eight others. Dedicated men and women of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington lost friends and shipmates. Families lost loved ones, forever. 

The team that responded in the days and weeks that followed showed tremendous resiliency and professionalism in rebuilding and restoring critical operational capability for NAVSEA and the Navy in support of their missions and our national defense.



In the days immediately after the Navy Yard shooting, personnel from NAVFAC Washington utilized their facilities engineering expertise to provide emergency facilities services for Navy Yard Building 197, completing a comprehensive damage assessment and finding a new operational location to enable NAVSEA to return to work as quickly as possible.

Building 197 was immediately secured and cleaned. Essential repairs were undertaken while a temporary headquarters was established. And in short order, as approximately 3,000 NAVSEA personnel were relocated and operating from a temporary headquarters, efforts to plan a comprehensive renovation of Building 197 moved into high gear. NAVFAC’s engineering and acquisition team competitively contracted CH2M Hill—using the Navy’s Global Contingency Construction Multiple Award Contract—to complete immediate repairs and to begin the planning for a more comprehensive renovation of Navy Yard Building 197. 

Personnel with NAVFAC and NAVSEA collaborated closely with CH2M Hill and its design partner Clark-Nexsen to adeptly produce renovation design concepts for the Secretary of the Navy’s approval in early December 2013. The team moved forward to develop an emergency military construction project that received Congressional authorization with unprecedented speed.  NAVFAC's Global Contingency Construction Multiple Award Contract allowed for a timely award of the contract in order to conduct initial repairs to the facility, perform detailed damage assessments, and develop alternative design concepts in a manner that would change the look, layout, finish and feel of the building. The goal was to create a different “sense of place” and mitigate the psychological and emotional impacts that the facility could have on returning occupants. The immediate task order was issued for $6.4 million, 14 days after the incident occurred.



Immediately after the notice-to-proceed, CH2M Hill started to develop the design concepts. The Navy required that an initial planning charrette be completed within 15 days. CH2M Hill used in-house personnel along with designers from Clark-Nexsen to work together on the three design concepts, which were required to be presented to the Navy not more than 45 days after the notice-to-proceed. In addition to the design concepts, the contractor had to provide parametric cost estimates and schedules. The three concepts varied in scope and complexity—but all had to take the following guidance into consideration: alter the “sense of place,” provide an interior Remembrance Area, and complete construction within one year of contract award.

Each design concept presented had different aspects, which were discussed and which presented a range of solutions. NAVFAC and NAVSEA eventually brought the design concepts to the Secretary of the Navy for final approval. The design selected in December 2013 met the criteria of the guidance provided and was the most advan-tageous and economical to the government. 

With the traditional holiday leave period approaching, the team quickly started on the near-impossible task to program, fund and award the contract by Jan. 31, 2014. With acquisition planning already ongoing, NAVFAC’s technical team rapidly completed the technical requirements package based on the selected design concept and forwarded the Emergency Military Construction Project Request to the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense and ultimately, to Congress, for approval. The Emergency Military Construction authority provided under Title X Section 2854 of the U.S. Code allowed the Secretary of the Navy to reprogram previously appropriated military construction funds for the project.

The acquisition planning and programming process for a military construction project normally takes more than two years. It took less than two months for Building 197. With exceptional attention to detail, motivation and hard work, all steps were completed in a timely manner and the project was awarded as a design-build contract on Jan. 31, 2014, using military construction funds totaling $44.2 million. A completion date was set of Jan. 31, 2015.


NAVFAC Washington was committed to providing a successful facility—hand-selecting a team of the best personnel in all required disciplines to work the project. The team was fully devoted to this mission critical project and empowered to assure NAVFAC’s commitment to meeting deadlines for the design and construction process. NAVSEA was equally committed. The command established several integrated project teams to provide essential, timely and definitive inputs on facility and design requirements. Key NAVFAC and NAVSEA personnel were collocated in the facility throughout the project. This ensured constant communication and effective collaboration.

NAVFAC Washington, knowing that a design-build project of this magnitude would normally take at least two years to complete, actively partnered with CH2M Hill and its primary design and construc¬tion sub-contractors to ensure the project was successful. Formal partnering meetings were conducted so that government and contractor personnel could maintain effective communication processes and resolve outstanding issues. These meetings were extremely successful since personnel from all parties were open and honest with one common goal: to safely complete the project on schedule, within budget and with outstanding quality that all team members could be proud of.

Integral partner members at the leadership, management and working levels continued to meet on a monthly, bi-weekly and weekly basis to maintain the partnership and to keep the project on track.

tour of Building 197 renovation




The completed project has exceeded all expectations. The sense of place has clearly changed and is appreciated by the returning NAVSEA workforce. New furniture and finishes were provided throughout the building, with a completely different color and way-finding scheme. Employee kitchens were opened up, brightened and equipped with seating so that these once-avoided spaces became a welcomed attraction. The noisy, metallic atrium spaces were enclosed with a warm wood and glass finish to provide an improved sense of calm, quiet and security, while maintaining the historic floor-to-ceiling sight lines, topped by the mammoth industrial cranes.

The long-closed original entry way on the river side of the facility was restored as the new primary entrance, providing an already well-used grand ceremonial space. Previously known only as Building 197, the facility was renamed and rededicated as the Humphreys Building, after Joshua Humphreys, the original designer of U.S. Navy warships, including the first six Navy frigates. Most fittingly, a Remembrance Area was constructed to commemorate the fallen shipmates who were lost that September day in 2013. 


The acquisition planning and programming process for a military construction project normally takes more than two years. It took less than two months for Building 197.


In addition to the significant architectural changes, the facility’s mechanical and electrical systems have been refreshed to meet current code and modern energy efficiency standards. 

Energy modeling of the renovated building relative to the previous facility estimates the project will result in an 18 percent reduction in energy consumption in accordance with Energy Policy Act calculations and a 12 percent reduction of annual energy costs. Low-flow plumbing fixtures, more than 17,500 new light bulbs, whole building commissioning, and HVAC testing and balancing all will maximize the facility’s operational efficiency.



A dedicated partnership between the government and the industry contractor team delivered a world-class facility in a very compressed period of time and under the congressional approved budget. The project is a testament to the commitment, patriotism, expertise and tireless efforts of all involved.

Despite the pressure to execute in a short timeline, safety was never compromised. The work involved over 170 different contractors who put in more than 320,000 man-hours with zero lost time mishaps. The men and women of NAVSEA can now look ahead to the future while honoring those who came before—including those who never got to go home on Sept. 16, 2013.



Lt. Cdr. Walter Sibley, P.E., CEC, USN, is Production Officer, NAVFAC Washington, and Michelle Connor, P.E., PLS, M.SAME, is Project Management & Engineering Branch Head (Acting), Public Works Department Washington, NAVFAC Washington. They can be reached at 202-433- 0910, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; and 202-685-3085, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., respectively.