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Coast Guard HQ rising on future DHS site in southeast D.C.

Jan. 17, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
Construction of the new U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters on the Saint Elizabeths Hospital West Campus on Jan. 6, 2011, in Washington.
Construction of the new U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters on the Saint Elizabeths Hospital West Campus on Jan. 6, 2011, in Washington. (Colin Kelly / Staff)

A new Coast Guard headquarters building is taking shape on an excavated hillside in southeast Washington. About three stories have been constructed at the bottom of the hill, and the building will reach up to eight floors as it terraces up the hill.

The $435 million, 1.1 million-square-foot Coast Guard building, to be completed in 2013, is the first phase of the $3.4 billion project that will consolidate 14,000 Department of Homeland Security employees at the western campus of the historic St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

Once completed, the Coast Guard building with a grass roof and a reflecting pool for water runoff will be certified as LEED Gold, the second-highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Six other buildings serving the Coast Guard and future DHS components will also be completed before Coast Guard personnel begin to move in. They will provide support services such as a credit union, cafeteria, child care and fitness centers.

Larry Orluskie, a DHS spokesman, said the project is on schedule and on budget.

DHS' plan will consolidate 180 department offices around the Washington area into seven to 10 locations, one of which is the St. Elizabeth's western campus.

With DHS preparing to occupy 4.5 million square feet of the campus by 2016, the 19th century mental institution will shrink to a small fraction of its current size on the eastern campus.

Phase two of the DHS construction will move the Federal Emergency Management Agency into a separate section of the eastern campus, and by 2016, agencies such as the Federal Protective Service, Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration will move in.

"The whole purpose of the Department of Homeland Security is to integrate these 22 disparate agencies and what St. Elizabeth's is doing is bringing that integration," Orluskie said.

Component agencies will be able to coordinate activities just by walking across the campus, he said.

DHS will reuse 51 of the 62 hospital buildings and demolish several abandoned greenhouses and a rusted wrought iron gazebo. The DHS secretary's office will be in the renovated main administration building a building that also housed poet Ezra Pound as a patient.

The finished campus will connect with local bike and walking trails, and DHS employees will walk past free-standing pieces of steel from the World Trade Center and granite from the Pentagon preserved after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

DHS has relied mostly on $200 million in funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, as well as initial funds from the 2009 budget. Orluskie said that an additional $287.8 million will be included in the president's budget request for fiscal 2012.

Related material">View video, photos of construction on the new Coast Guard headquarters

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