Military News

Monday, July 06, 2015

Renovated Historic Building Reopens

by Senior Airman Sarah Hall-Kirchner
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

6/30/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Construction of Building P-4 first began in September of 1940 as a 43-bed hospital at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. With the onset of World War II, it soon proved to be inadequate to meet the demands of the large number of wounded transiting through Scott Field. More than 60 new frame buildings were built to meet the demand, but P4 remained the base hospital until the new hospital, the current clinic, was built in 1958. Additions were made to the east and west wings five times between 1963 and 1978. Building P-4 has been used as office space as well as the headquarters for the 1405th Air Base Wing, the 23rd Air Force and, finally, the 18th Air Force.

The P-4 complex needed renovations to bring it up to many safety codes and the American's with Disabilities Act, and in 2011 a contract was awarded to bring the building up to standards, according to Don Peterson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resident engineer.

"It needed to become a world-class facility for the 18th Air Force Headquarters," he said. "We maintained the historical appearance of the building, consistent with guidance from the State Historic Preservation Office."

A contract was awarded to design and the construct all of the required renovations to P-4, part of which was to ensure the exterior portion of the building maintained its historical appearance.

"All of the windows on the east side of the building were retained and refinished," said Peterson. "All of the exterior brickwork was kept, to maintain its historical aspect."

Working to maintain P-4s historical integrity and to also balance bringing the building up to codes and standards was an opportunity that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron, the 18th Air Force and all of the contractors involved embraced.

"It was an important project, and it was an important project to complete," said Peterson. "It was an enjoyable project, through the challenges and successes, we enjoyed it. The project brought us together in order to cooperate and communicate."

Cheryl Majka, 375th CES chief of engineering, was in charge of all of the contracted construction for the P-4 complex renovations. The 375th CES programmed the work, obtained approval from the Secretary of the Air Force for the project, and worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and construct a total renovation of the historic facility.

Bringing the building up to code for seismic protections was the biggest challenge because the plan had to be reworked several times to meet the standards, said Majka.

"Seismic protection refers to additional structural bracing to reduce the risk of damage from earthquakes," she explained. "Scott lies in a major seismic zone due to the New Madrid fault line. There is a potential for a major earthquake in the region, so buildings are now built to reduce the impact of an earthquake and to protect the building occupants by not collapsing."

Peterson reiterated that the seismic protections were a challenge during the renovations.

"The most time consuming and complex aspect of bringing the building up to code was the seismic requirement," Peterson said. "Everything that we do has to comply with codes, so everything in the building was brought up to codes and ADA compliance, including the seismic codes."

Other codes that were met were the fire-safety code. The renovation provides firewalls to prevent potential fires from spreading to the other areas of the building. Stairwells provide much safer exits from the facility than before.

Completed in late May, the building had it's official ribbon cutting ceremony on June 29, 2015. Majka said that her favorite part of the renovation is not inside the building at all.

"My favorite part of the project is the courtyard behind the building," she said. "It will provide a unique and pleasing outdoor space that will add to the beauty and appeal of the historic district on Scott."

After more than three years of renovation, this historic structure is now once again home to 18th Air Force, the operational arm of Air Mobility Command, and the Air Force's largest numbered Air Force.

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