Federal City Project Progress Report

10 December 2009

A media event was held at Federal City in Algiers, LA to update the public on the progress of the new Marine Forces Reserve Facility. Elected officials were delighted to announce that the design build project was on-time and on-budget.

The Times-Picayune

Federal city construction ahead of schedule in Algiers

The Times-Picayune

4 December 2009

About 14 months after the Navy and local officials signed a lease to convert the Naval Support Activity in Algiers into a military and government campus, officials will gather at the site today to herald progress on construction of the Marine Forces Reserve’s new headquarters.

Their message: New Orleans’ largest economic development project, called federal city, is on budget and ahead of schedule. Under federal law, the Marines must occupy the 411,000-square-foot facility by Sept. 15, 2011.

The $110 million building overlooking Opelousas Avenue and Hendee Street is taking shape, with most of the exterior walls already standing four stories high thanks to the tilt-wall method of construction that sheds light on what the facility will look like when complete, officials said.

“Suddenly, with the tilt-wall construction technique, in the space of less than two weeks you suddenly see rising out of this (construction) site this massive building,” said retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Mize, who is spearheading the project.

In 2005, the Defense Department announced it wanted to close the Navy base, but a federal panel, after hearing pleas from state and local officials to retain the installation, agreed to leave the Algiers base open for federal city.As part of that decision, the panel kept Marine Forces Reserve in Orleans Parish instead of moving it to the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, in facilities the federal government would have built.

The state pledged $150 million to the project, provided through the Department of Economic Development’s “mega fund.” The Algiers Development District board in September 2008 signed a 75-year lease with the Navy, allowing construction on the Marine Corps headquarters to begin.

The tilt-wall construction method dates to the 1950s, but its use in Algiers marks the largest in the state. The method was selected because of the speed at which the headquarters could be built, said Bob Lipscomb, senior project manager for Woodward Design+Build, the contractor for the Marine Corps facility.

“Time is money,” Lipscomb said. “I think it cut a good three months out of it.” The 186 panels are fabricated on site, their brick veneers and decorative details already embossed in the face to give the exterior façade its finished appearance.

The panels are hoisted into position by a crane, attached to each other with welding plates and are held erect by support beams that will be removed once the roof and fourth floor deck are installed, Lipscomb said. The method essentially means the building is constructed from the outside in.

The walls, expected to be erected by Christmas, will contain about 11 million pounds of concrete, containing more than 1 million pounds of reinforcing steel bar, officials said.

“It’s an impressive sight,’’ said state Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, who is chairman of the Algiers Development District board that has provided seed money for federal city. “The project is moving forward, on schedule, possibly ahead of schedule, time-wise and budget-wise.’’

Mize said Woodward Design+Build, working with architects Mathes Brierre, said the contractor also worked with the Marine Corps to incorporate its needs into the facility.

“Our goal here is to give them the best headquarters building in the Marine Corps,’’ Mize said.

Marine Forces Reserves currently occupies less square footage at the Naval Support Activity’s east bank campus in quarters built during World War I as an army depot. That portion of the base will close when the Marines move to Algiers.

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