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502nd CES receives award for modernized design

By Jeremy Gerlach | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Dec. 7, 2016


The 502nd Civil Engineering Squadron was awarded a U.S. Air Force Design Award for bringing a pair of recently-completed building structures located in the Airman Training Complex at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland into the digital age.

The Air Force Design Award annually recognizes the top level of innovative building design across the service. The ATC development project stands alongside other fellow award-winning projects located at Scott Air Force Base, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Minot Air Force Base.

The two structures, ATC Dorm No. 3 and Dining Classroom Facility No. 2, are part of a six-building quadrangle consisting of four dorms and two dining facilities that caters to thousands of Air Force trainees each year. The award recognized the building project as a “tremendous” technological upgrade over the old “thousand-man dorms of yesteryear,” said 502nd CES supervisor and team lead Camilo Morales.

“This award is a big feather in our cap, both for the civil engineering squadron as a whole and for all Joint Base San Antonio,” Morales said. “It’s arguably the most prestigious engineering award we’ve gotten here at JBSA-Lackland.”

Work at the JBSA-Lackland ATC included a laundry list of impressive upgrades, Morales noted.

Dorm No. 3 is a 280,000 square foot, four-story structure that houses up to 1,250 Airmen. DCF No. 2, at 108,000 square feet, can accommodate up to 2,500 Airmen dining within a 90 minute period. DCF includes a first floor dining hall, while the second and third floors contain eight auditorium-style classrooms that can accommodate 120 students each.

Both structures are part of an ongoing ATC project aimed to replace the “old, outdated” 1,000-man dorms with bigger, more technologically advanced and much more energy-efficient structures, Morales explained.  

“The energy savings on these new buildings are just incredible,” Morales explained. “The old dorms were just energy hogs. We were just wasting an unbelievable amount of energy. Now these new buildings operate a lot smoother and more efficient, even though they’re about 250 people larger.”

DCF classrooms are equipped with laptop connections and other digital upgrades.

 The old thousand-man dorms didn’t have all these high-tech communication abilities,” Morales said.  “That’s something we’ve never had before.”

The award committee jurors were particularly impressed with the DCF building, which combined cafeteria and educational space, said Dave Duncan, Air Force Design Award program manager.

 "This is ‘mixed-use’ done the right way,” Duncan said. “The jurors made a big deal out of the dining hall being right under the classrooms. Airmen trainees are always on a tight schedule, so this design ensured that Airmen significantly cut down on travel time.”

 Jurors also praised the composition of the two structures, Duncan noted.

 “With the rotation of trainees through this facility, the buildings are going to be subject to a lot of hard use,” Duncan explained. “So the designers selected some durable but really attractive materials.”

 Morales agreed.

 “All the materials, the technology, the engineering, the utilities – everything on this project was just so well thought-out,” he said.

 Morales and Duncan both deferred much of the credit for the award to Merrick & Company, a national contracting firm that partnered with the 502nd CES for the project. Merrick & Co.’s San Antonio branch oversaw an eight-month planning stage for the structures, which included design work and construction administration services.

 The company’s top priority was helping JBSA-Lackland build a “durable, beautiful” ATC facility, said Tammy Johnson, Merrick & Co. spokeswoman.

 “We needed to design something that looked good and lasts forever,” Johnson said. “We were motivated to produce a sustainable design, so we really focused on energy and water use efficiency as well.”

The ATC project represents an ongoing partnership between JBSA and Merrick & Co. which continues to fill several government contracts at installations across the nation, Johnson noted.

 “It has been Merrick’s honor to work, and continue working with JBSA-Lackland and the Air Force,” Johnson said. “We’ve relied on the expertise and friendship of numerous individuals across many organizations at JBSA-Lackland along the way. It’s been a true team effort.”

 Helping the 502nd CES win an Air Force Design Award was an added bonus for Johnson.

 “We’re beaming with pride to have been involved with two projects that directly support the men and women who serve our country,” Johnson said. “And we can’t say enough how rewarding it is to be recognized for an Air Force Design Award as a result.”