When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) set out to redesign the infrastructure at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., they shot for the moon. A team of nearly 30 USACE engineers, architects, and scientists from across 18 districts in two countries was given three months to come up with the U.S. Army Installation Management Command integrated living community, a master plan to be implemented in stages by 2030—and a design that was to have the largest impact possible.
It was not designed, however, to be particularly comfortable for the soldiers based there.
“Typically in architecture, you spend a lot of time making the user feel comfortable, feel relaxed. You would look down on something austere and rigid,” says Lyndsey Pruitt, sustainability and energy program manager at USACE. One of the two buildings that she and fellow USACE team members designed for the Fort Leonard Wood master plan was a facility for basic training company operations—a soldier’s first stop. “The intent of the facility is to give a first impression for soldiers. It needs to say, ‘You now have the honor of being a soldier in the U.S. military. Forget about the bad things that have happened to you. Any baggage you have—you’re a soldier now.’ You do that through control and regimen.”
The basic training company operations facility is no typical dorm room, Pruitt says; project designers even shared the charrette for the facility with the drill sergeant for input. In a sense, the design team experienced the reorientation that the building is made to facilitate. “As an architect designing this facility, everything you learn about in architecture school is stripped away,” Pruitt says.
The commission stems in large part from the Department of Defense (DOD)’s new orientation toward sustainability. An edict issued by assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy, and environment Katherine Hammack calls for a number of net-zero energy, net-zero water, and net-zero waste installations by 2020. The Army aims to build or adapt 25 installations by 2030 that achieve net-zero efficiency in all three categories. The USACE team designed the Fort Leonard Wood installation to take it completely off the grid.
The USACE team is coordinating with the installations garrison to implement the first phase of the Fort Leonard Wood redesign, which also includes building an advanced individual company operations facility where soldiers receive training specific to their roles in the military. The team is also publishing a book on its work and, moreover, recommending changes to the military’s master template for installation design.
The impact of the military’s strategic interest in sustainability isn’t limited to the warfighter. One of the DOD’s major construction missions of the last decade, the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan, has resulted in new or consolidated facilities that prioritize energy-efficient design. The largest BRAC project has effectively doubled the base population at Fort Belvoir, Va. There, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)consolidated offices from Bethesda, Md.; Reston, Va.; Washington, D.C.; and other locations in a vast new NGA Campus East facility—the third-largest federal facility in the Washington area.
The 2.4 million-square-foot campus is composed of five separate buildings. The 2.1 million-square-foot agency headquarters features two independent office structures connected by an ellipse of curving, low-emissivity glass. In addition, NGA Campus East includes a central utility plant, a technology center (where the agency keeps server farms), visitor control center, and remote inspection facility. Designed jointly by Baltimore’s RTKL Associates and Philadelphia’s KlingStubbins, the campus achieved LEED Gold certification, exceeding the military’s mandate that requires new construction projects to meet LEED Silver energy-efficiency standards.