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NEWS | Sept. 8, 2011

Retro style meets higher safety, efficiency at AFPC A-Wing

By Robert Goetz 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs

One of Randolph's oldest buildings, transformed over time to meet the Air Force's changing needs, is scheduled to reopen next year looking more like its old self, but operating at a 21st-century level of energy efficiency and providing a state-of-the art office environment for its employees.

Bldg. 499-A, Air Force Personnel Center's A-Wing on C Street West, is gutted, in the midst of a multi-million-dollar makeover that will result in an airy, more worker-friendly environment and mirror some of the green features of AFPC's new Civilian Personnel Office, dedicated last year as Blanchard Hall.

"This project is taking A-Wing back to its original architectural construction consistent with Randolph's historical ambiance," said Sharon Moore, AFPC deputy engineer.

Old photos show A-Wing circa 1931 as one of the few structures on the Army Air Corps' Randolph Field, a brand new installation surrounded on all sides by farmland devoid of trees and any hint of the urbanization that would occur through the years. The long rectangular facility was the first of six barracks that served as the home of Randolph's enlisted Airmen and featured the Spanish Colonial Revival-style architecture and terracotta clay roof tiles that came to characterize the "Showplace of the Air Force."

Another one of the structure's trademarks, the striking arches that framed open-air porches in the days before air conditioning, will regain their prominence in A-Wing's facelift, though in a different form. The bricks that filled in the arches as the building later transitioned from living quarters to an administrative facility are already gone. Energy-efficient and antiterrorism/force protection compliant windows will fill in the arches, helping to reduce electrical usage, providing better climate control and bathing the building's interior in natural light, while returning A-Wing to its 1930s appearance.

An updated heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system will also reduce energy demand in the three-story facility, consistent with an Air Force-wide initiative.

"This project will make it much more energy-compliant," said Rhonda Lundberg, AFPC facility project coordinator.

A-Wing's overhaul will incorporate antiterrorism force protection and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant features, including a new elevator, she said. A host of other improvements are also planned.

"The building will have open office space that's more functional," Lundberg said. "The air flow was bad, so we're going with lower cubicle walls to improve air flow. We'll also bring all the electrical and plumbing up to code. It will meet all current code and Department of Defense Unified Facilities Criteria standards."

Lundberg said the renovation will also provide more room for workers.

"People were working in spaces that were not big enough for them," she said.

The renovation of A-Wing is part of a $50 million project that also includes a similar overhaul of the AFPC's C-Wing, another one Randolph's original barracks.

Occupants of A-Wing are now working in other parts of the base, including Bldg. 977, which has been renovated as swing space, Lundberg said. Shortly after A-Wing is completed, the renovation of C-Wing will begin.

A field operating agency of Headquarters U.S. Air Force, AFPC has a workforce that exceeds 3,200. Its multi-year master plan aims to realign functions and tenant organizations within its facilities for optimum efficiency, bring its facilities and supporting infrastructure up to current building codes, and environmental and Air Force standards, attain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and ensure adequate space is available to support current and future missions. The plan also envisions a new B-Wing and the renovation of D-Wing, E-Wing and Bldg. 663.

The construction of Blanchard Hall, funded in the fiscal 2008 Base Realignment and Closure Commission budget, represented the first step in AFPC's 21st-century transformation. A-Wing's anticipated completion early next year marks the next step.

"We're really excited," Moore said. "The building will be absolutely gorgeous."