Award-winning project has a clear purpose

Published July 21, 2010
The U.S. Forces - Iraq Operations Facility, located at Victory Base Complex, won an Excellence in Engineering award from the American Council of Engineering Companies for its practical design and proven functionality. USACE photo.

The U.S. Forces-Iraq Operations Facility is far from being the most aesthetically pleasing project entered in the annual competition of the American Council of Engineering Companies. It is not beautiful and does not minimize a carbon footprint like other national finalists, according to Deborah Duncan, Deputy for Programs and Project Management at the Middle East District.

But it squarely fits the purpose of the competition: “These awards affirm the vital role that ACEC member firms play in enhancing the quality of life and security of our nation.”

“Our project has the appearance of a warehouse,” Duncan said, “but our project can save the lives of those who are forward deployed.”

USF-I Operations Facility, located at Victory Base Complex, is the largest military administrative facility in Iraq serving hundreds of people. It is the first to be built from the ground up with an integrated protective blast roof featuring a multi-layer system designed to withstand rocket and mortar attacks. The system uses commercially available materials and relatively simple construction techniques.

After winning in the Massachusetts competition, the USF-I Operations Facility was among the national finalists in the ACEC 2010 Engineering Excellence Awards in Washington, D.C., on April 27. Tetra Tech, lead designer, submitted the project in the Structural Systems – Buildings category, naming Perini Corporation and the Army Corps of Engineers as members of the project team.

The Massachusetts plaque now sits in the trophy case in MED Headquarters, along with several other awards that the Tetra Tech, Perini and MED team have received in engineering competitions for force protection projects in Iraq.

MED awarded the $28 million construction contract to Perini Corporation in August 2008, and it was finished in October 2009. The Gulf Region District supervised construction.

The team faced a few challenges meeting the construction schedule when its purpose was modified during the pre-award process.

“This project started out as a headquarters facility to replace existing deteriorated facilities and to consolidate command functions for a division that was to be based at Victory Base Complex,” said William Ryals, chief, Iraq Branch. “USCENTCOM (U.S. Central Command) changed its function to incorporate a wide range of command and control functions in the Iraq Theater under one roof with significantly improved force protection built into the facility.”

The 72,452-square-foot facility serves as the communications, logistics and deployment headquarters for all branches of the U.S. military engaged in Iraq, according to the Tetra Tech nomination package. “Its functions are critical to ensuring the safety of U.S. troops in Iraq; preserving hard-won national security gains; and realizing the military and diplomatic objectives of the U.S. and our allied nations,” the package reads.

When Perini received the contract award, the changes in scope weren’t finalized. Ed Greco, vice president of Perini, said that the design-build project was challenging because there was an urgent requirement to provide office space and communication infrastructure in less than 15 months, yet the complete requirements and end users were unknown.

MED worked diligently to produce the 65 percent design on time, according to Derek Walker, who previously worked in Engineering Division and is now assigned to the Gulf Region District. “The coordination between the contractor and the Corps made the design completion and construction easier and less complicated,” he said.

“USACE, Tetra Tech, and Perini worked as a team to produce an award-winning project at a quality that would be expected in the United States,” Greco said.

Tetra Tech said in its nomination package that the USF-I Operations Facility “creates a model for future projects in terms of its innovative structural, building and technology systems. It also demonstrates the benefits of design/build in completing projects with challenging schedules and remote and hostile environments.”

Joan Kibler

Release no. 13-035