Design Immerses Recruits In Patriotism, Navy Story
The U.S. Navy has set sail on a design-build project that
will better welcome aboard recruits in Illinois.
The $41 million project at Camp Moffett, an induction facility
at the Naval Station Great Lakes complex, will ensure raw
recruits' initial experience is a memorable one as they begin
the transition from civilian to military life, said Capt.
Rame Hemstreet, commanding officer of the Naval Facilities
Engineering Command Midwest.
Moffett is an approximately 100-acre site in the center of
the 1,000-acre-plus Great Lakes complex, which is about 30
mi. north of Chicago. Recruits spend their first five days
or so at Moffett before being sent to either Camp John Paul
Jones or Camp Porter, both also in Great Lakes, to undertake
the bulk of their training.
A barracks structure previously in Moffett was demolished
at the onset of the project in August 2005. Existing buildings
were retained, including In Processing, Combat Pool, Clothing
Issue, Medical Dental Complex and the Separation Barracks,
which is where one-time recruits go who in the end choose
not to swear allegiance to the Navy.
New structures were built as part of the project, including
a roadway, the P-Day Barracks--where the recruits sleep--and
galley and classrooms attached to the barracks in an annex.
Other project elements included infrastructure, utility relocations,
repaving an access road and expanding a parking lot for civilian
About 1,000 to 1,300 recruits pass through Moffett every week.
Maiden Moffett Voyage
In the past, recruits' first sights at Moffett were less than
They were driven down an approximately 1,200-ft.-long service
road and dropped in a parking lot. From there they walked a
small distance to In Processing.
"It's like going through the back alley," said J.J.
Tang, senior project designer of Chicago-based M+W Zander, the
He added that coming into Moffett will now be much more stirring.
After going though the gate at Moffett on a bus, the recruits
will proceed through several points and see several things aimed
at plunging them in Navy traditions and imbuing them with pride
at the prospect of soon being sailors in the world's mightiest
The recruits will come to a colored concrete circular plaza
and turn right to an approximately 200-ft.-long, 28-ft.-wide
thoroughfare called the Avenue of the Flags lined with the flags
of each U.S. state and territory. The thoroughfare ends in a
circular, brick-paver plaza surrounded by American flags and
with a flagpole in the center, also hoisting the Stars and Stripes.
"The Navy likes to use immersive design to pound images
into kids' heads," Tang said. "'You're in the Navy
and should be proud of yourself.'"
From there, they will turn left and be driven down a 500-ft.-long,
They will pass beneath an A-frame canopy that covers a walkway
perpendicular to the driveway and across it. The A-frame provides
a vista of what is ahead: a final circular plaza fronting an
entryway with canopy, also in an A-fame.
The entryway feeds an enclosed bidirectional concourse. To the
left is In Processing, where the recruits are registered and
They arrive at night as part of the indoctrination process to
separate them from civilian life, and the entryway and white-walled
concourse adjacent are brightly lit and embellished with approximately
9-by-12-ft. photographs, creating a montage of Navy ships, events
and people and representing the core principles of honor, courage
and commitment. A timeline of Navy history is also on the wall.
"Just imagine that everything is dark, and the only things
that are lighted are these pictures," Tang said. "Emotionally,
Inside, the concourse features gray, exposed structural steel
similar to the beams on a ship.
Another key element called the Campus Central Plaza directly
fronts In Processing. The plaza is a rectangle surrounded by
trees and featuring a star in the pavers in the middle and another
"The key to this whole project is the fact that this is
what we call the quarter deck of the Navy," Hemstreet said.
"It's the first experience a recruit has >> upon
joining the Navy."
Practicality played a role in the design, too, especially the
enclosed concourse. The walkway connects In Processing and other
buildings: the Combat Pool, Clothing Issue and P-Day Barracks.
The concourse will allow recruits to go among these buildings
without going outside--not a small consideration in the Midwest
where the weather is often foul. Previously, recruits had to
frequently put on and take off foul-weather gear, when the climate
warranted, to circulate among the buildings during their initial
"The constant putting on and taking off of gear takes time,
and the Navy has a regimented process of bringing the recruits
through training day by day," Tang said.
Indeed, the concourse is expected to shave a week from the
training program every year and save millions of dollars a
year because of reduced training time, said Michael Betz,
senior project manager of M+W Zander.
Why Design Build?
The Navy uses design-build for about 80 percent of its construction
projects, Hemstreet said.
"It allows us to get the best ideas from the construction
industry and realize our objectives," he added.
The Navy process usually involves prequalifying selected firms,
establishing the basic project needs, narrowing the selection
to about four firms and reviewing the semifinalists' detailed
proposals. The winning proposal is usually based about half
on cost and half on quality.
Accommodating recruits' training was the biggest issue during
construction because of their large number, said Mark Wagner,
senior vice president in Chicago of Bethesda, Md.-based Clark
Construction Group Inc., a member of the Clark/Blinderman/Knight
LLC design-build team. In addition, the construction activity
occurred right in the center of the Great Lakes complex.
"We couldn't be invisible, but the issue was how do we
not interfere with their day-to-day activities," he added.
Solutions included meeting with Navy personnel daily and working
out the walkways recruits would use every day.
During sitework, soil contaminated with asbestos was uncovered
because of the barracks demolished at the onset of construction.
It was remediated and shipped to a landfill accepting special
"Every utility you can imagine" was relocated because
some existing lines were demolished, Wagner said. Service was
usually maintained except for some brief outages.
Construction activity is expected to be complete in October.
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