New Southcom HQ building ‘Smart, safe and efficient…’

By Arthur McQueen….

Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez (third fromn left) and Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose ‘Pepe’ Diaz (fifth from left) assist in ribbon-cutting.

The new U.S. Southern Command Headquarters complex represents a huge step forward in capability, technology and efficiency for office buildings.

The new $402 million headquarters in Doral was opened December 17 in an event that honored the promise of a June 6, 2008 groundbreaking and symbolized the solidification of commitment between the State of Florida, the local community and the military.

Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, SOUTHCOM commander, led the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon, marking the official start of operations at the new facility.

“We came together as a community and worked hard,” said Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Miami-Dade County commissioner. “As a marine and someone who loves his country, this is a special day.”

Doral is the most diverse city, in the most diverse county, in the most diverse state, “in the greatest democracy in the world,” said Carlos Bermudez, Mayor of Doral.

That diversity is a strength, said former SOUTHCOM commander Admiral James Stavridis, who described the purpose of the building and the event as a partnership, representing the two meanings of promise; both the commitment to and the potential of the relationship between the US and the Americas.

High Tech, LEED Construction

The westernmost building, the Installation Support Center, hosts both the SOUTHCOM Medical Clinic and the U.S. Army Garrison Miami, currently staffing the new and expanded child development and fitness centers, along with a host of additional support and quality-of-life services to command personnel, their families and eligible military ID card holders.
Security throughout the new building is more sophisticated:  “I open my door with a fingerprint,” said John Burgess, garrison director of public works.
The building was constructed to maximize outside lighting to the cubicles, rather than private offices, as in traditional office buildings. “This is contrary to the old way of construction, and more natural light means less lighting is required by the building itself,” he said.
The new headquarters adds this capability while minimizing impact on resources, due to its design, which was required to be LEED Silver certified.
The  35-foot-deep retaining ponds allowed the complex to be built above the 100-year flood level, and will cut water usage by supplying irrigation and recyclable water to the complex, reducing the impact.

“The significance of LEED Silver is that we have a building that is designed and will be maintained to lead to better energy efficiency and less consumption,” said Dennis W. Newell, resident engineer for the project. “This benefits the Army by saving dollars that can be spent somewhere else. It also means less dependence on fossil fuels.”

LEED construction takes into account the materials and energy efficiency, Burgess said. “Our overall impact will be more, because this represents three times the space we had; but per square foot of facility, you will see a much smaller impact on the environment.”

The building is designed to withstand maximum wind speeds of 185 miles-per-hour, which far exceeds current Miami-Dade and Florida code requirements.
“The building has been wind-load tested, and can actually shift up to three inches,” Cintron said. “The joints and single-tilt wall construction – the way it was built and came together is full of interesting features.”

The building also uses power from two different substations, has 10 MW of backup generator power and other life sustaining and communications equipment.  The amazing storm resistance – and the information management specifications contributed to a Miami-Dade American Society of Civil Engineers Project of the Year Award.

“To bring a project from a good idea to fruition in the time in which this was done is incredible,” Burgess said. “The Army Corps of Engineers, Hensel-Phelps and the other professionals involved with this project have done an incredible job to bring it from where it was three years ago.”

U.S. Army Garrison-Miami supports SOUTHCOM, one of six Defense Department geographic unified commands and is responsible for U.S. military operations, cooperation and partnership-building in a region that includes 31 countries and 10 territories in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.  Financially, the military impact on South Florida totals $3.6 billion.

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