JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
A Y-shaped building that was constructed as the post exchange during Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph’s Army Air Corps era is in the midst of a renovation project that is transforming the interior of two of the structure’s three wings.
The first phase of the project at building 200 – which is located at Washington Circle and Northwest Drive across from the Taj Mahal – was finished early this year, said Jonathan Scoggins, 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron architect and project manager. That portion of the building, B Wing, will be home to Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 404 Operating Location-A.
“We had to go in, remove and add exterior doors, level the floor, install new partitions and ensure that the interrogation rooms met all of OSI’s requirements, including carpeted walls to protect people who are being interviewed from being overheard,” he said.
This phase of the project also included adding office space, a break room, a shower room, a conference room and carpet tiles for flooring.
Work on the first phase started a year and a half ago, Scoggins said, but was delayed for several months because the electrical system needed updating to meet code requirements, which he cited as the biggest challenge of the project.
Construction at building 200 is on hiatus until the final design for the second phase of the project is complete and a construction contract is awarded later this year, he said. This portion of the building, A Wing, will house offices of the Air Force Judiciary Central Circuit, Air Force Legal Operations Agency.
Work will involve erecting partitions and adding office space, communication lines, electrical service, restrooms, a conference room, a break room, a mechanical room and a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. The wing has already been insulated for energy savings.
Little of the project involves exterior work because of the structure’s status as a historical building, Scoggins said. It retains its white color, one of the unusual features of the building compared with most of JBSA-Randolph’s structures.
“Like the Taj and the main chapel, it’s one of the few buildings that’s painted white,” he said. “We want the exterior to maintain its historical accuracy, so much so that we work with JBSA’s cultural resources chief Dayna Cramer.”
The structure was part of the initial phase of construction at what was then called Randolph Field.
“Tour of Historic Randolph,” a publication of the Air Education and Training Command Office of History and Research, describes the building:
“Across the street and just to the west of the wing headquarters is the old Post Exchange (Building 200), another uniquely designed structure. Constructed around a circular courtyard, the building consists of three wings that jut out in the shape of a Y. At the center of the courtyard and enclosed by colorful tiles stands a Spanish-style fountain that is visible through the graceful triple arches that serve as the entrance. The building was designed by San Antonio architect Robert B. Kelly and was completed in 1931 at a cost of $41,000.”
When the post exchange opened for business on June 27, 1931, it housed the main sales store, a restaurant and a commissary, according to documents from the 12th Flying Training Wing History Office.
Although more exchange branches were opened in separate facilities in the 1940s and 1950s, building 200 remained a post exchange and, later, the base exchange when the Air Force became a service branch.
The main sales store in the base exchange was razed by a fire in November 1955, but reopened in March 1957 and was renovated in the late 1960s.
However, the building was left vacant when a new base exchange was completed in September 1977. Since that time, the building has had various occupants, most recently AFOSI 11th Field Investigations Squadron OL-A in B Wing and the 12th FTW inspector general’s office, 12th FTW history office and 802nd Force Support Squadron manpower and organization section in C Wing, which is not part of the renovation project.
The three wings of the building were initially separate, joined only by the courtyard, but A and B Wings were connected, possibly in the 1950s, adding interior space. In addition, A Wing was lengthened, making it the longest of the three wings.
The project marks another interior transformation for building 200, but without changing the historical character of its exterior.
“It looks old on the outside, but on the inside you have all the modern conveniences,” Scoggins said. “That’s the goal.”