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Balfour Beatty – Fort Benning

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The reception station is the first place new recruits to the Armed Forces see after reporting to their base, and the place they receive their uniforms, haircuts and orientation to their new lives. New recruits at Fort Benning in Georgia are starting to see improvements to not only the reception station, but also the related barracks where they spend their first few weeks as soldiers before starting basic training.

Construction Manager Balfour Beatty is overseeing the construction of two new reception station barracks at the Army base at a total cost of $39 million. Work began in March 2010 and will conclude in May 2011.

The two barracks combined will provide 326,000 square feet of space for beds, showers, bathrooms, laundry facilities and drill instructor offices, Project Manager Jamie Wray says. The buildings will replace outdated facilities on the site being leased by the Army Corps of Engineers, the base’s operators, he adds.

The work is part of the ongoing federal Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) process. The process addresses military base needs throughout the United States.

Project Features

Both three-story buildings have structural steel skeletons, composite concrete slabs and metal stud exteriors with DensGlass waterproof gypsum sheathing.

The larger of the two buildings will include room for 1,080 beds, while the second building will house 720 beds. Troop assembly canopies will front both buildings.

Both buildings will be built to LEED silver specifications, Wray says. Sustainability features include environmentally friendly paints and sealants, as well as high-efficiency mechanical equipment. Balfour Beatty is working with a commissioning agent who oversees mechanical system installation and efficiency, Wray says.

One of the project’s unique design aspects is the use of Anti-Terrorism Force Protection features including a setback from driving paths, blast-resistant windows, and a progressive collapse structural design, he adds.

National design firm Woolpert is working on the mechanical and plumbing design of the project. The architect is Niles Bolton Associates of Georgia.

Safety and Teamwork

Construction is proceeding at a rapid pace on a compact schedule, meaning Balfour Beatty has needed to pay close attention to scheduling subcontractors. In addition, crews are working longer hours and on weekends to complete the barracks buildings, Wray says.

“If we can keep more trades working in different areas we can improve the overall duration of the scheduling,” he adds. “We’re compressing the schedule and working on multiple floors at once in different areas of the building, as opposed to sequentially.”

More than 100,000 man-hours have already been devoted to the project, with zero time lost to injuries or accidents. Wray credits site safety in part to the company’s extensive safety training, which includes fall protection, rigging, excavation and fire extinguisher training.

In addition, the company also offers a safety incentive program and monthly banquets for crewmembers.

A Good Fit

Balfour Beatty is an infrastructure services provider with more than $2 billion in revenue domestically and $15 billion worldwide. The company has experience in a number of sectors, and is currently working extensively on public and military projects. “We work for customers principally in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Southeast Asia, Australia and the Middle East who value the highest levels of quality, safety and technical expertise,” the company says.

Balfour Beatty has four businesses operating in professional services, construction services, support services and infrastructure investments. Capabilities include project design, financing and management, engineering and construction, and facilities management.

“We manage all facets of construction from infrastructure to hospitality to criminal justice,” Wray says. “The company is pretty diverse in terms of the work we’ll do.”

Wray says the company’s experience in residential and hospitality projects in particular has prepared it for projects such as the Fort Benning reception station barracks. “I think a lot of our experience in multifamily buildings and the hospitality sector lends our skills to be able to build barracks buildings, as they’re basically no-frills hotels,” he adds.