Engineers build, improve DoD academic facilities in Garmisch

USACE Europe District
Published Feb. 28, 2017

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — Educating leaders, current and future, is a mission shared by a pair of DoD tenant organizations here. The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and the Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe are building, renovating and expanding facilities to promote student engagement and success with the support of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District.

The Marshall Center, a German-American security and defense institute founded in 1993, hosts participants from more than 152 countries for a variety of transnational security programs. Attendees learn, live and dine together in a campus-like environment.

Currently, the Center’s facilities are split between two kasernes. Participants attend lectures on Sheridan Kaserne and travel across a major intersection, by foot or car, to Artillery Kaserne for meals and lodging.

But that’s about to change. USACE Europe District is working with the Center, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria and German construction counterparts at the Weilheim Bauamt to design and build a 13,000-square-foot dining facility on Sheridan Kaserne.

The new facility is scheduled to serve three meals a day to participants by 2021, said Army Capt. John Floyd, the Center’s facilities engineer.

“I think the most important thing about this project is it gives us the unique opportunity to consolidate our campus,” Floyd said. “This makes facilities management much easier, but it also enables our mission to help develop a network of security professionals and build relationships. Participants will be closer to their faculty and peers.

“Having everything centrally located supports the formation of small groups so that when participants go back to their countries they have contacts they can reach out to with security issues,” he said.

While the dining facility will serve the Center, the project actually falls under Installation Management Command’s European Infrastructure Consolidation, a DoD process announced in 2015 to save the government approximately $500 million annually. It’s major military construction, said Peter Barth, the Europe District regional program manager for USAG Bavaria.

“This project was developed because the current DFAC will close and the building will be returned to the host nation,” Barth said. “It’s just one example of the district’s increasing EIC project workload in Garmisch. We’ve gone from managing a few hundred thousand dollars in design and construction annually to $20 million.”

IMCOM-E identified Garmisch as a location where it can achieve efficiencies and cost savings in the long term, so it’s investing in projects here, Barth said.

“To help address the significant workload increase, the district hosts frequent project coordination meetings with the bauamt and other stakeholders,” he said. “We facilitate fruitful discussions on budget and schedule milestones.”

Europe District hasn’t worked with the Weilheim Bauamt on many projects in the recent past. It’s been more than a decade since the duo managed any major military construction, said Catherine Haran, a Europe District project manager.

“We are working to build the relationship and provide the bauamt the support they need on this project,” she said.

Another challenge here is the Army’s standard design criteria for dining facilities worldwide. It makes sense for the Army to have uniform standards for DFACs that serve Soldiers, but the standards don’t meet the needs of the Marshall Center, Floyd said.

“This dining facility is not a traditional dining facility — we don’t feed Soldiers, and we don’t have Soldiers run the DFAC,” he said. “We also don’t have staggered meal times. We’ve had to negotiate with the center of standardization to break out of the mold.”

Europe District is assisting the Marshall Center in requesting design changes, Haran said.

“At key milestones we’ve worked to identify and prioritize requirements,” she said. “This also helps identify needs, such as a private dining room, versus wants, such as décor.”

Stakeholders are also working through architectural requirements for the new dining facility. Situated in the German Alps, Garmisch is known for traditional alpine-style chalets and farm houses, Barth said.

“We ask the bauamt and designer to meet local style,” he said. “But the balance we need to find is somewhere between copying the local style and coming up with an original design. We don’t want to copy a wooden cabin that was built 200 years ago. We need to allow innovative thinking and meet the most current building and fire protection codes. They are mandatory.”

As part of the EIC plan, a number of 1930s-era stairwell buildings on the center’s main campus will be also be renovated to provide centralized lodging. When the dining facility and lodging are complete, the Marshall Center will have a compact and cost-effective campus, Floyd said.

“Our facilities are important to our business model,” he said. “Right now we can house and feed participants for around $70 a day, which is almost unheard of. Keeping facilities here and keeping them updated allows us to maintain this business model and meet our mission to create and enhance enduring partnerships worldwide.”

On Artillery Kaserne, DoDEA-Europe is also in the design phase of an addition and renovation project to benefit military-connected children at the combined Garmisch Elementary and Middle School. Europe District is managing the project and expects the majority of work to be complete in summer of 2020, officials said.

After a few starts and stops in the design process, the project is moving forward, said David Groat, the school principal.

“The renovations to the main building will primarily be for physical security,” he said. “They will be changing the duct work, upgrading the fire protection alert system and adding a secondary front door to the school’s main entrance.”

The school will also gain a few new facilities — a gymnasium and a cafeteria, Barth said.

“The students will have an additional 13,800 square feet of space to play, exercise, perform, and eat,” he said.

The gym is especially critical for the school because the students currently use the secondary base gym for their physical education. Under IMCOM-E’s EIC plan, this gym is one of the buildings being returned to the host nation by 2020, Groat said.

“The new gym and multipurpose room will certainly have a huge positive impact,” he said. “Our students will have their own PE facility and it will save us the travel — we currently have to bus the kids to the gym every day for PE classes.”

The construction project also provides hands-on learning opportunities for the students, Groat said.

“When we received the 35 percent design drawings, one of the things we did with our seventh- and eighth-grade math students was we borrowed survey equipment from the DPW and had them measure out the area where the addition will be,” he said. “They had to determine the measurements without the blueprints. It gave them an opportunity to use the math they’re learning in class and apply it to a real-life situation.”

While Groat looks forward to having new facilities, he says quality education requires much more than brick and mortar.

“We try to create rich, relevant learning opportunities so our students will become collaborative, creative thinkers,” he said. “Maybe even future world leaders.”