The Pentagon project, dubbed BRAC 133, will relocate employees and contractors from various leased space in the Northern Virginia area to the Army-owned property in Alexandria off of Interstate 395. (Sheila Vemmer / Staff)
New offices for more than 10,000 federal employees in the Washington area got the green light Jan. 7.
The National Capital Planning Commission approved final site and building plans for two major building projects: a new Pentagon administrative complex for more than 6,400 civilian, military and contract employees, and a new Coast Guard headquarters for more than 3,800 employees.
Both projects have been in the works for years, and substantial work already has begun on the Pentagon complex, which is being fast-tracked under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process. But the commission's approval marks a key vote of confidence and will allow construction to proceed without delay.
The Pentagon project, dubbed BRAC 133, will relocate employees and contractors from various leased space in the Northern Virginia area to the Army-owned property in an office park in Alexandria off Interstate 395 at the intersection with Seminary Road.
The employees and contractors work for the Defense Department's Washington Headquarters Services, where they perform myriad administrative support functions such as acquisition, financial management and human resources. The 2005 BRAC Commission required that the employees be relocated by September 2011.
Plans call for about 1.7 million square feet of building space on the 16-acre site. Two high-rise office towers will house nearly 1.4 million square feet of office space — the East Tower at 15 stories and the West Tower at 17 stories — in a "T" configuration in the south section of the campus. The bottom 10 floors of the two towers will be connected so common facilities such as a cafeteria, fitness center, conference and training rooms and computer server rooms can be shared.
Adjacent to the East Tower will be a nine-level parking garage with 1,854 spaces and an access ramp off of Interstate 395. This will be the main access point to the campus for both employees and visitors.
A separate, seven-level parking garage in the north section of the campus will accommodate another 2,044 spaces. A pedestrian bridge will connect the north parking garage to the visitor's center, which is between the north parking garage and the south campus office towers.
A remote inspection facility, planned for the southeast corner of the property, will allow for trucks to be inspected and screened for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials.
The proposed location of the inspection facility provoked major discussion during the Jan. 7 commission meeting. Alexandria, Va., Mayor William Euille and several commissioners objected to placing the screening facility on the property, noting that vehicles will need to drive past apartment buildings and non-federal office buildings to be screened, putting workers and residents at risk.
"Any incident that occurs could cause extensive problems for those that live, work or commute near the facility," Euille said.
However, most commissioners said planning and development of the campus had progressed too far to consider relocating the screening facility and that other alternatives for screening vehicles already had been considered and rejected by the Pentagon.
A motion by National Capital Planning Commissioner Harriet Tregoning for the Pentagon to consider relocating the facility to another location was defeated on a 4-6 vote. The commission then gave final approval to the development, with three members opposed.
Coast Guard headquarters
In a separate vote, the commission unanimously approved plans for the Coast Guard headquarters building and an adjacent parking garage.
The Coast Guard building is the first phase of the $3.4 billion project that will consolidate 14,000 Homeland Security Department employees at the historic St. Elizabeths Hospital campus in southeast Washington. The General Services Administration is overseeing the development.
Many green features have been incorporated into the 1.2 million-square-foot office building and the adjacent parking structure. These include green roofs, the use of natural light and local building materials, and energy-efficient building and lighting systems.
In a major revision from earlier plans, all but two stories of the planned seven-level parking garage will be below ground to minimize views of the garage; previous plans called for five stories to be above ground.
The Interior Department remains concerned about a proposal to build an access road to the site using public parkland that is maintained by the National Park Service, said Peter May, a parks director who represents the department on the commission. However, May said he's encouraged that GSA is reviewing alternatives and did not believe the issue should delay construction from beginning.
Construction of the Coast Guard facility should begin later this month and be completed in 2013, GSA said.