Renovations ongoing for a number of years at the U.S. Air Force Personnel Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas are nearly complete, and while the exterior of Building 499 has been restored to its historic look, the interior has significantly changed.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s Facilities Repair and Renewal Program, the Fort Worth District and the Air Force Personnel Center’s engineering staff at Randolph started the renovation project in 2009 with first the A-Wing and then the C-Wing of Building 499. This was the first comprehensive renovation of Building 499 since the first building was built in the 1930s.
The over $73 million project renovated, furnished and outfitted 200,000 square feet of office space and incorporated state-of-the-art features that increase energy efficiency and provide a better working environment for employees. The improvements meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver criteria.
A-wing renovations were completed in November 2013; C-wing is expected to be complete Sept. 14.
“The renovations consisted of demolishing the interior of each wing and replacing closed office space with an open plan and some offices,” said Ron Brook, Huntsville Center’s project manager. “All the building systems – heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, electrical and plumbing – were installed as new, the exterior was repainted and new modular furniture was installed in each wing.”
Other upgrades included Americans with Disabilities Act compliant features, including a new elevator.
“The project took five years to complete,” Brook said. “Through it all, we worked very closely with the project team members. Coordination between Huntsville Center, the Air Force Personnel Center and Fort Worth District Quality Assurance was excellent.”
The original buildings housed enlisted Airmen and featured the Spanish Colonial Revival-style architecture and terracotta clay roof tiles. The structure’s trademarks were arches that led to open-air porches. Over the years, each of the arches was filled in leaving only a small rectangular window. Now, energy efficient and antiterrorism/force protection compliant windows fill in the arches, helping to reduce electrical usage and provide better climate control and natural light for the building’s interior.
While the exterior may resemble the original structures, the inside has been transformed into open office space using system furniture.
According to Ralph Williams, the AFPC engineer for the project who is now retired, the interior is much more flexible. Before, as missions changed and personnel were moved around, they were just located anywhere there was space, Williams said. Now personnel can be grouped by function, and if the mission changes and furniture needs to be re-configured, the systems furniture allows for that.
Williams said the Air Force came to Huntsville Center when other agencies could not accept the project without money in hand. All the projects were awarded near fiscal year-end with end-of-year funds.
“We had an execution strategy, but we had to find an agency willing to develop and advertise our projects in advance of funding,” Williams said. “Huntsville Center has been absolutely outstanding. We could not have done it without you all. We are very pleased that the project ended up in your court.”
Huntsville Center uses Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity service/construction contracts covering all 50 states plus U.S. territories and limited overseas locations. These contracts and how they are used have many benefits and advantages.
“Huntsville Center was able to do things that were out of the ordinary and extraordinary,” Williams said. “I do not think anyone else could have done the job and provided the same level of customer service Huntsville Center provides. There were issues, but we worked through them. I hope we continue the relationship because there is a lot more to do.”
“Along the same lines, we are now working a project through Huntsville that will remove the true eyesore to the building and the entire historic district - B wing,” said Rich Hartsell, AFPC Engineering Support and Space Manager.
“Having been here from the beginning, I'd also like to echo the comments about Huntsville,” Hartsell said. “Huntsville Center is one of the few can-do agencies left in the Department of Defense construction world.”
“The results are great,” Williams continued. “I am thrilled with it. Our execution strategy has been unique. Any time we approached Huntsville Center, the answer was always yes, no matter how ambitious the requirement. I do not think any other entity could have done this job using our execution strategy.”
Williams said there were several project managers before Huntsville Center settled on Brook. “He has been our PM for most of the job, and he has been wonderful.
“The good news is we love Huntsville Center to death and will keep coming back,” Williams said.
The Huntsville Center’s Facilities Repair and Renewal program offers a fast track, efficient method for design and execution of all types of facility repairs, renovations and minor construction. This program is available to all districts and their customers as part of the Corps’ one-door-to-the Corps policy, as well as the Department of Defense and other federal government agencies.