• The new Training Center at Cape May features state-of-the-art, LEED-certified buildings to better serve the U.S. Coast Guard's operational needs and support their environmental commitment.

file under: Facilities, Federal Government, Green Design, North America, Sustainability, United States, Design-Build

Mission Ready

U.S. Coast Guard settles into the new station at Cape May

Semper Paratus. The official motto of the U.S. Coast Guard means “always ready” and describes the dedicated men and women who tirelessly prevent and respond to maritime events for the United States’ oldest seagoing service. To support that enduring mission, the Coast Guard commissioned the advanced $11.4 million station at Training Center (TRACEN) Cape May in Cape May, New Jersey, USA. Designed and constructed by CDM Smith, the new station better serves the Coast Guard’s operational needs in the Delaware Bay and mid-Atlantic region.

TRACEN truly has a 21st century facility that supports our objectives to modernize our facilities and fleet and be as green as possible. 

Integrating Design and Stewardship
The nation's only Coast Guard recruit training center, Cape May is also home to three 87-foot search-and-rescue cutters and Aids to Navigation Team (ANT), which oversees the region’s navigation aids and lighthouses. Until recently, the station and ANT operated from a World War II-era laundry facility and a scattering of undersized and temporary structures. Bringing them together is a state-of-the-art, two- story 29,900-square-foot (sf) multi-mission building that comfortably houses 80 personnel and their equipment. The building provides administrative and operational control space, large training rooms with advanced audio/visual systems, wet rooms, an armory and telecommunications command center, two large boat bays with engineering spaces, and comfortable berthing for the station watch standers and temporarily assigned personnel.

Training Center Cape May display of colorsThe display of colors within the new multi-mission building during the facility's dedication.

The adjacent new one-story, 6,800-sf vessel support facility includes three open work bays for smaller, towable boats and secure storage for naval engineering supplies, all designed to give staff efficient and effective maintenance space. To support the Coast Guard’s environmental commitment, the LEED®-certified buildings feature local and recycled products, surpass indoor air quality standards, incorporate water-saving landscape design and interior fixtures, and use energy- efficient lighting. Midway through the design, the project team was asked to accommodate the Vessel Boarding Security Team, a homeland security unit that relocated from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. “Our design and construction agility allowed us to quickly make adjustments that fit an additional 900 square feet into the flow and function of the building,” says retired Capt. Joanne McCaffrey, CDM Smith client service manager.

“This multi-mission facility now allows three units to efficiently share training rooms, a new communication center and maintenance space,” describes Cmdr. Robert Hueller, TRACEN facilities engineer. “TRACEN truly has a 21st century facility that supports our objectives to modernize our facilities and fleet and be as green as possible.”

Building with Flexibility and Ingenuity
Keeping the 24-month project on schedule required flexible and innovative planning on the busy base. The two new buildings were to be built on adjacent sites separated by an active roadway. Operations were to continue in the existing structures and then move to the completed multi-mission building, making room for the new vessel support facility. “Saving time saves costs, so we developed a site design that allowed the simultaneous construction of both buildings by incorporating the existing roadway and footprints into a unified site,” notes Barry Giorgi, CDM Smith design manager.

Training Center Cape May constructionFlexible and innovative scheduling accommodated a compact site and 4-day work week, while a unified site design and pre-engineered metal buildings saved time and money.

The use of pre-engineered metal buildings (PEMB) further reduced project costs and time, but created engineering challenges. “Since an early foundation package was required to maintain the schedule, the PEMB manufacturer and engineers carefully communicated structural designs to meet package deadlines and facilitate accurate slab construction,” says Giorgi. The ocean-side base also required structural and geotechnical engineers to develop appropriate pile, foundation and slab designs, which allowed construction to progress while other teams completed their designs.

Achieving Results in 4 Days
With the 3.6-acre site directly across the street from the commanding officer’s residence and at the end of working piers, all major construction, utility outages and pile driving were planned well in advance and sometimes done on weekends or holidays. Weekly recruit graduations also meant the project team could not work on Fridays. “With a shortened week, every day counts. Field staff had to work longer days to review and resolve any construction issues to prevent delays the next day,” states Kurt van Heiningen, CDM Smith construction manager. Weather can also significantly hinder a shorter week, and the 2010 to 2011 winter was one of historic proportions, with Cape May receiving more than double the average winter snowfall in one storm. “The adverse weather cut into production times and required carefully planned site work and concrete pours. When it wasn’t snowing, it was raining; 1 or 2 bad weather days meant a quarter to half the week was lost.”

McCaffrey is happy with the results. “Anytime you provide the right Coast Guard facilities, crews become even more ready for every element of their mission.” Hueller is equally proud, “New facilities like this are rare in the Coast Guard, and I know the staff loves this building. Our men and women returning from missions look forward to coming back to this facility. If I can do anything to make their lives easier, that makes me proud.” | Daryl Shepard