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Best Office Project

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THE PLAYERS

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Baltimore
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency


General Contractors

Balfour Beatty Construction, Fairfax
Clark Construction, Bethesda, Md.

Architects

RTKL Associates Washington, D.C.
KlingStubbins , Philadelphia


Description

At 2.4 million square feet, this $1.4 billion project is the largest military construction project since the Pentagon was built in 1943.  It created a new home for the nation’s National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), consolidating 8,500 employees from various locations throughout the Washington metropolitan area. Its timing couldn’t have been better, creating hundreds of construction jobs during the recession. 


The project

When NGA opened its new facility last September, it got a home custom built for its mission. The agency provides geospatial intelligence, including satellite imagery analysis, to support national security.  The project’s centerpiece is a 2.2-million- square-foot, eight-story office building loaded with complex information technology and security systems.  The main building consists of two curved office towers that define a 500-foot-long atrium in the shape of a lens — an appropriate metaphor for NGA, which serves as the nation’s eyes.

Besides the office, there’s a 146,000-square-foot technology center, a 105,000-square -foot central utility plant, a 5,100-space parking garage and a visitor control center. Improvements to what was a 130-acre site with aging buildings included nine lane miles of new roadways and three bridges. The project achieved gold certification under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and is designed to be 45 percent more efficient than a building that meets standard code requirements.

One of the biggest challenges for contractors was meeting the congressionally mandated BRAC deadline of Sept. 15, 2011. Construction began on Sept. 6, 2007, and was completed by April 19, 2011. Activities were forced to overlap, with construction beginning 18 months before design was even completed. The project also required the collaboration of many partners charged with everything from construction to outfitting for security concerns. “Finishing the project six months early and meeting the BRAC deadline for a fully operational facility remains a testament to a truly integrated one team effort,” says Mike Phillips, a senior vice president for Balfour Beatty Construction.


What made it stand out

The new sprawling campus spotlights the dramatic change that occurred under the most recent government BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Act) initiative, which moved 17,000 U.S. Department of Defense employees out of Arlington. Besides consolidating thousands of NGA employees, the project brought infrastructure improvements including new exits off Interstate 95 and created an economic boost in Springfield for retailers and restaurants.


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