Mobile District Project Wins USACE Design Award

Mobile District Public Affairs
Published Feb. 6, 2013

U.S. Air Force personnel enjoying the Tyndall Fitness CenterThe Mobile District has been recognized in the 2012 Chief of Engineers Awards of Excellence Program with its highest award – Chief of Engineers Award of Excellence – for the designing of the Tyndall Fitness Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The program was created in 1965 to recognize and promote excellence design achievements in two categories – military and environmental/civil design achievements – by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its professional partners. The current USACE Chief of Engineers is Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick. The Award of Excellence is the chief’s highest award and only one is given for each category. A unanimous decision is required for an entry that truly exhibits excellence in all major professional design disciplines.

Tyndall AFB Fitness Center is a $17 million, 75k square foot, 2-story, state-of-the-art fitness center designed to follow the "Fit to Fight" maxim recently adopted by the U.S. Air Force. It was also designed to meet the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and exceeds the requirement to reduce energy consumption to 30 percent below the standard.

The facility is a bold architectural statement with dynamic interior features. Bringing together a mix of materials with vibrant color, architectural features with dramatic shapes, and an all-time first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or "green" certification for the Air Force, the facility exudes energy and fitness throughout a complex of interconnecting athletic spaces.

Open since August 2010, the fitness center is more than three times the size of the original gymnasium built in 1975. This much-needed expansion serves up to 1,000 visitors daily. The site, located within a half-mile walking distance to an existing community and several barracks, encourages walking. To enforce the "green" spirit of the facility, bike racks and premium parking were established for low emission, fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.

Throughout the project, the design team relied on Building Information Modeling (BIM) solutions from Autodesk to explore and refine ideas quickly and efficiently. Early in the design phase, the design team also used sophisticated rendering technology to create preliminary building massing models and renderings to visualize ideas. In pursuit of LEED certification, project architects explored multiple approaches to shading and harvesting natural sunlight. Energy-saving features include the building envelope and cooling systems, increased wall insulation, an energy-efficient roof system, and roof mounted photovoltaic solar panels. Other sustainable design features include day lighting; solar thermal preheating of domestic water; rainwater collection for irrigation systems; low-flow toilets, urinals, and shower systems; and permeable pavers in overflow parking areas.

Receipt of LEED Platinum certification reflects the highest achievement possible in the five categories of green-build construction: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality. The many sustainable systems incorporated by the design team to achieve the LEED Platinum level makes this facility representative of "The Building of the Future." Underscoring the Air Force’s commitment to successful use of energy-efficient and sustainable design, the building is the most energy efficient facility in the U.S. military.

A major challenge of this project was overcoming the limitations and constraints of the original preliminary concept design. The preliminary design called for a single story, 89k- square foot facility built to LEED Silver certification, which exceeded available funding.

To resolve these funding issues, the design team led a three-day scoping charrette, conducted an on-site assessment, and reassessed individual and operational requirements using data collected during interviews with more than a dozen key stakeholder agencies, to accurately meet requirements.

As a result of this comprehensive reassessment, the design team was able to implement innovative, sustainable and cost-saving design approaches, and recommend the construction of a two-story fitness center with a considerably smaller footprint.

This new design maximized square footage within the established budget and generated approximately $3 million in total cost savings from the original estimate. Recognizing the Air Force goal for the new fitness center to serve as a national showcase for sustainable military development, the design team strove to integrate proven energy and cost-saving solutions into the design, and performed life-cycle cost analysis on all of the energy-saving features.

An 11,000-square-foot cardio/weight room with a separate parent/child workout area hosts new equipment, while reusing some of the barbells and dumbbells from the old facility. Almost 4,000 square feet is dedicated to a Health and Wellness Center, which provides space where individuals can receive personal counseling for healthy living and cooking classes in the demonstration kitchen.

Interior view of the Tyndall Fitness Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The design and construction of an energy-efficient building located in hot, humid Florida presents a number of challenges, and the Tyndall Fitness Center was no different. Using Revit Architecture software, the project architects developed and evaluated multiple approaches for shading the building while maximizing the harvesting of natural sunlight to minimize the need for artificial lighting, resulting in both lower "first in" costs and annual operating expenses.

"Throughout construction, close teamwork and coordination ensured that the project stayed on track and in compliance with LEED standards," said Brig. Gen. James Browne, 325th Fighter Wing Commander. "These facilities will, without a doubt, improve the quality of life for members of team Tyndall and their families."