Supporting Our Troops
Supporting Our Troops
Supporting Our Troops
6 minute read

Modern military facilities need to accommodate new firepower and technology. In Tulsa, our team is helping the Army Corps of Engineers create a training environment that will provide the air and ground defense training facilities needed for mission success.

Their job is difficult and dangerous — and their sacrifices are for all of us. Burns & McDonnell is helping plan, design and build facilities that give U.S. forces the support they deserve.

Net Fires Center: Training Excellence for the U.S. Army

Modern military firepower creates the most confusing, dangerous battle conditions imaginable. Victory — and survival — depends on preparing troops to perform in the worst of circumstances.

Burns & McDonnell is helping the Tulsa District Army Corps of Engineers create a training environment that will provide the best in both air and ground defense training. The Net Fires Center at Fort Sill, Okla., will combine the Air Defense Artillery (ADA) School, formerly at Fort Bliss, Texas, with the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill.

Realistic and Cost-Efficient

At Fort Sill’s three new general instructional facilities (GIFs), soldiers will use real equipment to train on defense systems including the Patriot missile defense system, and the shoulder-mounted Stinger for short-range air defense. Training will also include futuristic digital simulators that create a multidimensional battlefield effect.

“Training the air and ground artilleries together creates a synergistic training environment,” says Burns & McDonnell program manager Mark Zimmerman. “It facilitates better-coordinated operations — and allows sharing of training-center functions.”

Results on the Fast Track

Creating the Net Fires Center called for design and construction of 14 new facilities and renovation of 22 others. Visits to Fort Sill have been part of Zimmerman’s routine for four fast-paced years. Burns & McDonnell served in multiple roles to execute the massive $225 million program on a fast track.

In addition to coordinating all the design packages, those roles included complete development of the 22-acre site: permitting; road design; and upgrades to water, wastewater and electrical distribution.

Managing Change, Preserving History

Burns & McDonnell completed phased sequence drawings to help coordinate the movement of personnel, including the sixth ADA brigade from Fort Bliss. Because many of the buildings at Fort Sill date back to the early 1900s, Zimmerman’s team coordinated renovations under direction of the State Historical Preservation Office. Burns & McDonnell also assisted the Corps in developing the design-build request for proposals (RFPs) for the GIFs.

“(The) A/E conducted consolidated design charrettes with multiple facility users and three separate centers of standardizations in a severely compressed time frame,” says Tulsa District Design Branch Chief Johnny Bell. “Coordination of RFP chapter 6 requirements, LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) coordination, and site/infrastructure design were exemplary.”

Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Training Site

Burns & McDonnell helped design the facilities to build the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Now, the firm is serving as the prime A/E consultant for the Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Training Site (ITS) at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., where the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and eight partner countries will be trained to fly, maintain and support the aircraft.

Burns & McDonnell is providing services for the ITS from master planning, space programming and design services through construction inspections and LEED® documentation. Facilities include a 260,000-square-foot academic training center, a student dormitory and dining facility, an Air Force squadron operations facility with hangar and a combined Navy/Marine squadron operations facility with two six-bay hangars, plus associated aprons, tow-ways and fueling systems.

High Tech and Green

The academic training center is equipped with a high bay for weapons loading trainers, virtual-reality engine trainers and hands-on engine trainers. It also features secure briefing and debriefing rooms, an auditorium with advanced audio-visual capabilities, specialized classrooms, secure workstations and highly sophisticated, full-mission flight simulators.

The center required extensive electrical and secure communications systems, including two secure high-density data centers, to support its functions. High-efficiency HVAC systems, low-flow plumbing fixtures and landscaping that preserved existing trees are helping the facility achieve LEED® Gold.

A Burns & McDonnell forester walked the site that would become the center’s parking area and prioritized trees to be saved. The design centered around islands protecting the best specimens, including some long-needle pines that were 200 to 300 years old. The trees will keep the open lot at least 50 percent shaded, winning LEED® points while preserving the character of the site.

MacDill AFB: Supporting Intelligence and Command

Secure, reliable intelligence and efficient command are essential to the safety and success of our armed forces. But when the U.S. was attacked in 2001, many of the people performing those functions worked in scattered trailers or in spaces the size of a closet. Burns & McDonnell immediately began working with the Department of Defense (DOD), providing planning, programming and design services to improve the situation.

A $250 million, multiyear, phased construction program under way at MacDill will culminate in new headquarter facilities for the U.S. Central Command.

Burns & McDonnell recently completed work on the LCDR Otis Vincent Tolbert
Joint Intelligence Operations Center, a four-story, 269,066-square-foot administrative building and conference center at MacDill.

Into the Light

“The Corps wanted to correct the perception that military intelligence operations were people doing dark things in dark places,’” says Burns & McDonnell program manager Eric Kraus. “They wanted a normal-looking office building where people go to work and do their jobs like everyone else.”

While the new intelligence center looks like a normal building, it’s anything but. The structure is designed and constructed as a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility, with multiple levels of communications and building security.

No Stone Unturned

Kent Yaros, Burns & McDonnell design architect, designed the building’s exterior to comply with MacDill’s architectural compatibility plan. But subtle design touches make the building a standout within the standard.

Within an exterior color palette he calls “beige and more beige,” Yaros used a variety of forms and textures to add interest to the exterior cladding. He convinced the Florida supplier to send him a dozen 12-inch square insulated precast concrete panels in various shades. After narrowing the selection, he re-examined the choices with the client in the light of the Florida sun. That extra care helped him create subtle color accents above each window and a recessed, contrasting color wainscot at the first floor. The building has earned two design awards: an Air Mobility Command Design Award and an Air Force Merit Award for Concept Design.

Healthy Environment Reduces Stress

Because personnel often work short rotations at the center, way finding was important. So was reducing the stress of the high-alert environment. Inside, Burns & McDonnell interior designer Barbara Haman used calming blues and greens, with color changes that help orient workers less familiar with the building. She designed the interior with varying levels of color, texture and daylight views to avoid eye strain, with ergonomic seating and with low- or no-volatile organic compound materials for healthier air. “Good design and color does not cost more money,” Haman says. “It takes knowledge, interest and care.”

Haman created workstations in team modules that could be expanded, during a surge in personnel, from four to six persons by simply moving storage pedestals. Because workers may be shoulder-to-shoulder monitoring two to four screens each, the temperature control and ventilation system takes advantage of an under-floor plenum containing electrical and cable connections. Adjustable vents in the floor deliver cool air, forcing the warmer air toward the ceiling. Haman says that during the design of the interior, some soldiers protested that it was “too nice” for them. She shakes her head. “I’ve never seen such dedication and can-do attitude,” she says. “A building like this is what they deserve.”

Master Planning: Regional Training Institute

When Burns & McDonnell consultants sit down with DOD clients to plan a program of construction, they help them achieve both immediate and long-range goals. Burns & McDonnell project managers Amy Clement and Pete Karnowski enhanced strategic planning for the Regional Training Institute (RTI) at the Arkansas Army National Guard’s Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Ark.

The RTI provides training for infantry, field artillery and military occupation qualification. Designed to serve the Arkansas Army National Guard and guardsmen of nearby states, it also houses an officer candidate school. Burns & McDonnell is providing similar master planning services for RTIs in Maine and Louisiana.

Expandable and Flexible

Planning began with a meeting on how to make best use of funds earmarked for Camp Robinson. “We suggested some strategies to help them get what they need now, with flexibility for future expansion, by organizing the construction into phases that could be completed as funding became available,” Clement says. “That allowed them to realize cost savings for site preparation and utility runs.”

Clement and Karnowski determined the key requirements and estimated costs for construction of classrooms and appropriate office spaces for the programmed number of students and staff. They also helped identify efficiencies such as locating the dining facilities near classrooms instead of adjacent to barracks. On the hilly, rocky site, they met the client’s request for a central yard for exercises and drills with a paved courtyard also suitable for re-enlistment and award ceremonies.

Program Continuity

In addition to programming and planning, Burns & McDonnell provided permitting, design and construction services for the RTI. The firm also provided an important element for long-term, phased DOD projects — continuity of expertise. “On DOD programs, we may begin working with one group during planning, but by the time construction begins, none of those people are left — they’ve all deployed,” Clement says. “We make it easier for the client to meet all the program requirements and construction criteria.”

“The Burns & McDonnell team is one of the few out-of-state firms that has gotten repeat business from the Arkansas Army National Guard Construction Branch,” says LTC Patrick Niederkorn, plans and programs manager, Arkansas Army National Guard. “Their work shows their understanding of the guard’s design criteria and design guides. Their effective communication during design and close monitoring during construction assist in team building and equate to an exceptional end product that comes within their cost estimates.”

USAF Child Development Centers: Setting the Standard

When one parent is deployed and the other works a full-time job, the last thing a military family needs is worry about child care. Burns & McDonnell worked with the U.S. Air Force to develop a prototype child development center (CDC) that will help ensure every Air Force CDC is designed and built to the highest standard of safety and quality — the first time around.

“The Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency and the Air Force Services Agency inspect the CDCs,” says Burns & McDonnell program manager Wendy Hageman. “But because the CDCs weren’t being built according to a single standard, things usually had to be corrected afterward.

Prototype for Safety

The Air Force wanted a more proactive approach. Hageman designed a prototype with complete floor plans for a large CDC for up to 304 children from 6 weeks to 5 years old, including support spaces such as activity rooms and a kitchen.

The spaces were designed to minimize blind spots. In a CDC designed to the new standard, whether staff members are changing a diaper or preparing a snack, they can keep an eye on what’s going on in the rest of the room. The design also raises tamper-resistant electrical outlets 54 inches above the floor.

The new prototype is being used as a template to develop design-build RFPs tailored to specific CDC sites. So far, Burns & McDonnell has developed RFPs for CDCs on 10 military bases across the country.

For more information, contact Randy Pope, 816-822-3231.

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