New Cedar Rapids Armed Forces Reserve Center Designed for the Times

By George C. Ford, Reporter

The open house for bidding opportunities on the Armed Forces Reserve Center will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. July 26 at the Linn County Extension Office, 3279 7th Ave. in Marion.

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By Becky Ogann

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - In keeping with the impact that Iowa National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve deployments have on families, a new Armed Forces Reserve Center in Cedar Rapids will have rooms for their activities.

With a nod to the times, the 113,506-square-foot building also will incorporate blast-resistant design standards.

In addition, the $38 million complex under construction at 1500 Wright Brothers Blvd. SW will include a separate 60,000-square-foot field maintenance shop, The complex will have parking available for more than 600 vehicles.

The new Armed Forces Reserve Center and Field Maintenance Shop under construction at 1500 Wright Brothers Blvd. SW will have thick walls and other blast-resistant features to protect the facility from an explosion or forced entry.

Jeff Smith, director of construction in Iowa for general contractor Opus Design Build of Minneapolis, said the reserve center and maintenance shop are sorely needed to replace facilities in northeast and southwest Cedar Rapids built shortly after World War II.

“There are a number of things that the facility will provide to prepare the modern soldier for overseas deployment,” Smith said. “Computer and communications systems will be available throughout the facility.”

Grant Peterson, vice president of Opus Engineers and Architects in Minneapolis, said the Armed Forces Reserve Center will have repair and training facilities for radios and other communications devices.

“There are several facilities within the building focused on the families of reservists and National Guard, especially now that so many are being deployed,” he said. “It’s more of a holistic view of how to train and prepare a soldier and their family for deployment.”

Smith said the Armed Forces Reserve Center will include a 9,000-square-foot assembly hall, kitchens, classrooms, office space, a fitness facility and a weapons simulation area.

“It will offer target training inside that’s all laser-based, rather than ammunition-based,” he said. “The field maintenance shop will repair and maintain a wide variety of military vehicles from Humvees all the way up to what they call a HEMTT. That’s really a heavy transport truck that they use to move military supplies, equipment and people.”

Peterson said the state-of-the-art field maintenance shop will replace cramped, outdated quarters at the existing Iowa National Guard facility on 18th Street SW.

“We’ve entered a new era where deployments are becoming more common than they were 10 years ago,” he said. “We really need facilities equipped to handle today’s vehicles and expanded deployments.”

Smith said site preparation is the focus of construction at the present time. He said the buildings should start “coming out of the ground” by the end of August.

“We are planning an open house toward the end of July for local subcontractors and the small business community,” Smith said. “We will make bid packages available to them and discuss bidding schedules. ”

Peterson said the “prairie-style” building will incorporate geothermal heating and cooling along with water conservation measures, highly insulated exterior wall and roofing systems and lighting controls.

“It also will have all the new Department of Defense blast protection requirements,” Smith said. “The exterior walls, glass and roof will be built to protect the building from a blast or forced entry.”

Peterson said construction should be completed and the buildings turned over to the U.S. Army Reserve and Iowa National Guard in September 2011.

The open house for bidding opportunities on the Armed Forces Reserve Center will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. July 26 at the Linn County Extension Office, 3279 7th Ave. in Marion.

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