Defense Media Network

A Facility for a Dynamic Future: USACE Delivers High-tech Space for Intelligence Command

BY BECCA NAPPI, Baltimore District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Baltimore District is putting the finishing touches on a state-of-the-art 381,000-square-foot Secure Administrative/Operations Facility (SAOF) on Fort Belvoir that will provide the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) a consolidated administrative facility to well-equip them for future operations.

“We’ve created a facility that consolidates INSCOM’s operations, which were previously dispersed throughout the National Capital Region,” said Baltimore District Commander Col. John Litz. “This project is a significant investment and reflects the Army’s commitment to supporting INSCOM’s important mission. The great partnership between the Army Corps and INSCOM was a significant factor in the success of this project, and I am proud of the teams that continue to collaborate on delivering INSCOM’s facilities program.”

With 17,500 Soldiers, Army civilians, and contractors located at 180 locations in 45 countries, INSCOM executes mission command of operational intelligence and security forces; conducts and synchronizes worldwide multi-discipline and all-source intelligence and security operations; delivers linguist support and intelligence-related advanced skills training, acquisition support, logistics, and communications; and other specialized capabilities in support of Army, joint, and coalition commands and the U.S. intelligence community.

“This new SAOF will allow INSCOM to divest of commercial-leased space and gain increased synergy from a consolidated headquarters complex,” said Col. Doug Henry, INSCOM chief of sustainment and facilities. “This facility will provide the foundation upon which INSCOM supports the Army, DOD [Department of Defense], and intelligence community operations for the next several decades.”


The six-floor SAOF consists of mostly Special Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) space that is required for INSCOM missions. These SCIF areas are built to ensure that sensitive information can be disseminated and discussed without risk of data leakage.

The facility also features a four-story atrium, roof garden, outdoor plaza, cutting-edge operations center and data management center, cafeteria, and fitness center. The facility is expected to meet LEED® Silver ratings.

The design, contracting, and construction of this facility were no easy feat. With a customer like INSCOM, which needs a facility that will consistently adapt to an ever-changing technology environment, designing and building an accommodating space for existing and future technology was a challenge.

“Delivering world-class facilities is our strength, and that requires the use of cutting-edge information technology,” said Baltimore District Capital Area Program Manager William Tully. “So we have made sure to provide the building infrastructure to accommodate emerging technologies that will certainly continue to evolve in the years ahead.”

USACE proved adaptable to technology upgrades that happened even during the design and construction of the facility. The team developed modifications that not only satisfied these new technology requirements but also made sure that minimal impacts occurred to the construction budget and schedule.


One of the biggest challenges of the SAOF’s construction was its location. While it’s common for an agency to occupy a “swing space” during construction to allow for a temporary workspace for employees during renovations or demolition of the old building space, INSCOM needed to occupy their current space in the Nolan Building throughout construction.

So how does a team build a new 381,000-square-foot facility on an existing agency site while still keeping the current facility operational? USACE designed an ideal solution to this challenge.

The SAOF was designed to wrap around INSCOM’s existing Nolan Building on three sides, like a horseshoe. The design ensured that INSCOM could access and occupy the Nolan Building during construction of the SAOF.

This wrap-around design placed the construction of the SAOF within 9 to 20 inches from the Nolan Building, with additional entryways attached to the Nolan Building itself for future access.

While this close proximity proved to be complex, not disturbing employees working in the Nolan Building during construction was set to be an even bigger challenge.

The Manhattan Construction Company, contracted by USACE, began construction of the SAOF in spring 2016, carefully working to make sure there were no impacts to the operations in the Nolan Building. This included keeping construction noise levels as low as possible, not disturbing power-supply lines, and keeping the main entrance of the Nolan Building clear of construction operations.

USACE and Manhattan Construction Company effectively managed to not disturb INSCOM operations even when large tower cranes required for construction were swinging materials over the Nolan Building.

“Working with the entire stakeholder team, construction sequencing of the SAOF has been executed safely and in a way that has minimized the impact to the ongoing operations of INSCOM personnel inside the Nolan Building,” Tully said. “It’s important to give credit to our construction team members and Manhattan Construction Company for managing safety on a construction effort spanning multiple years and incurring zero impact overall to INSCOM’s mission.”


More than 2 million construction man-hours have gone into SAOF’s construction, which makes up just two phases of a larger project to provide INSCOM a new work campus.

The four-phase project consists of phase one, which was completed in 2014 to give the site a large parking garage; phases two and three, which entail the construction of the SAOF; and phase four, slated to begin in 2021, which includes the renovation of the Nolan Building and its integration with the SAOF through the earlier-built access points.

“We’ve had the pleasure of working with a team of extremely professional, motivated, and technically competent individuals on all sides the table, all focused on the same goal,” said Baltimore District Capital Area Office area engineer Wesley Wright. “That has been a primary contributing factor to this project being on track for a successful completion by any measure.”

Once SAOF construction is complete in fall 2019, INSCOM will take the keys and outfit their new building with furniture and tech equipment over the course of the following year. The completion of all four phases will certify that INSCOM has plenty of modern, amenity-filled space and operational facilities to lead the charge for the future of intelligence and security operations.