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Posted 11/4/2015

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By JoAnne Castagna, Ed.D.


Over the past two years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blasted and hauled enough rock to fill a football field 32 inches high to make way for a new Cadet barracks at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

They performed this work under difficult conditions - surrounded by historic buildings filled with thousands of Cadets. They worked in this restrictive area with great care knowing they will relieve the tight living quarters being experienced by the Cadets who are presently living in overcrowded conditions.

Today the rock blasting is done and Davis Barracks is being constructed.  The barracks will not only provide much needed living space, but also be energy efficient and save tax payer’s money.

“A new barracks that meets current Army standards is needed to relieve overcrowding in the existing barracks,” said Matthew Ludwig, Chief of Military Programs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District. “Right now, the entire first-year class and part of the second-year class are housed with three Cadets in rooms designed for two Cadets. This project will allow assignment of two Cadets per room upon completion of the entire Cadet Barracks Upgrade Program.”

Davis Barracks is being designed and constructed by Army Corps contractor Walsh Construction Company of Chicago, IL and its designer, Clark Nexsen.

The barracks will be 287,000 square feet in size and have six floors. Five of these floors will accommodate 130 Cadets in 2-person rooms. The entire barracks will provide living space for 650 Cadets. Cadets will be provided with latrines and showers, a laundry area, day rooms, office areas, study and collaboration rooms, trash and recycling areas and offices and storage rooms for the Cadets.

“The Corps has made major progress over the past two years since this project was awarded,” said Catherine Scott, team leader, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District.  “We completed blasting and removal of almost 60 feet of solid rock from the top of a mountain, and then hauled approximately 150,000 cubic yards of this rock to off-site locations, all done from a restricted project site surrounded by historic structures occupied by over 4000 Cadets.”

The barrack’s infrastructure is expected to be completed this December and soon after this, work will begin on the granite exterior façade, windows and doors as well the mechanical and plumbing equipment and the interior finishes.

Scott added, “An architectural highlight in this structure's design is the central light well in the building's center. There is a large 17-foot square skylight on the roof and a large open area on each of the floors below; this central "well" space will allow natural daylight to illuminate the common area of the Barracks.”

“This aesthetic design will provide an open feeling for Cadets when they gather together in the study rooms or collaboration rooms on each floor. A similar skylight is being built above each of the two main stairs at each end of the building to provide similar lighting in these stairwells.”

As for the exterior façade, Davis Barracks will fit in well with the rest of the 200-year-old campus. Like the surrounding buildings, it will be constructed in military gothic revival architecture.

 The design will include granite veneers or overlays, gothic arches, sally ports or secure entryways and crenellated parapets with embrasures and limestone accents. 

Unlike the other buildings constructed at West Point, the barracks will have energy efficient features making it Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified. This will save taxpayers approximately 44 thousand dollars annually.

Scott said, “The design uses innovative methods to control the climate in the Cadet rooms through plastic tubing that is being installed in the concrete floor slabs. This tubing will provide radiant heating during the winter months as well as radiant cooling during the summer season. While radiant heating has become more widespread and popular in recent years, using the same tubing to cool the ambient space is a relatively newer technique.”

In addition, solar panels will be installed on the flat roof space of the new Barracks as another innovative way to control energy costs.

Davis Barracks is expected to be completed next summer and Cadets will be able to use the new facility by the end of December 2016.