The Pentagon Renovation team absorbed and integrated the lessons learned into a revised plan, one that would now include an entirely new effort called the Phoenix Project: the complete demolition and rebuilding of the 400,000-square-foot damaged section within a year. The renovation of Wedges 2 through 5 would continue. Originally scheduled for completion in 2014, they were accelerated with funding from Congress, whose legislators realized the program’s urgency. Far from delaying the project, the 9/11 terror attacks were a catalyst that drove it closer to completion.
At the peak of activity, more than 3,500 workers toiled away at the site, working wedge to wedge while the DOD continued to function at full strength – a job Evey compared to “taking apart a black-and-white TV and putting it back together again in color, without missing any of your favorite programs.”
In the spring of 2011, the last of the displaced employees returned to work at a new Pentagon, in compliance with every applicable statute and code and built for efficiency, using sustainably harvested lumber, lower-water plumbing fixtures, energy-efficient lighting, and carpeting and other materials made from recycled content. More than 50 percent of the construction waste had been salvaged and recycled.
Inside, the Pentagon, though familiar, looked entirely new. In June of 2011, in The Washington Post, Steve Vogel wrote:
Old-timers accustomed to marching up ramps and stairs marvel at the 70 passenger elevators in the new Pentagon. The institutional cafeterias with kitchen mixing bowls the size of Volkswagens are gone, too, replaced by an airy two-story dining atrium of terrazzo, stainless steel and glass. The hot dog stand in the center courtyard was rebuilt and is now known as the Center Court Cafe, offering panini and quesadillas.
Built in an era of analog telephones and manual typewriters, the Pentagon was now a headquarters fit for the Information Age, with more than 100,000 voice, data, and video drops and 16 consolidated server rooms.
In addition to these modernized spaces, the surrounding grounds featured several conspicuous differences, including the reconfiguration of State Route 27, which had entrance and exit ramps altered to provide a security checkpoint at the Remote Delivery Facility entrance, and State Route 110, which was swung out to the east to skirt the Pentagon Lagoon rather than the building itself. Each of the new facilities on the Pentagon Reservation was certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program:
- The computer-controlled New Heating and Refrigeration Plant (NHRP) relies on natural gas and a solar roof to achieve 30 percent greater efficiency than its predecessor.
- The 250,000-square-foot Remote Delivery Facility, on the north lawn, provides a secure consolidated location for receiving and screening thousands of items shipped to the building each day. With its landscaped roof, it’s hardly visible to anyone looking out the north windows.
- The Metro Entrance Facility, off the southwest façade of the building, moved vehicular traffic away from the building itself by providing a new Metro bus stop and an arrival point for Metro rail passengers. A new Pentagon Athletic Center on the north side of the building accommodates 8,000 members daily with workout equipment and exercise areas.
- The Pentagon Library and Conference Center, near the Pentagon Lagoon, houses the Army library, several offices of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, a café, and 16 conference rooms.
The last feature to be added to the grounds was the Pentagon Memorial, dedicated on Sept. 11, 2008, on the southwest lawn where Flight 77 approached the building seven years earlier. The wide expanse features 184 benches, each bearing the name of a victim of the Pentagon attack and arching over a shallow reflecting pool lit from below.
In his remarks at the memorial’s dedication, President George W. Bush remembered the victims, as well as the Pentagon employees, first responders in Arlington and New York, and the passengers of United Flight 93 who sacrificed their lives on that day to protect other Americans from harm. “On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose,” he said. “And here at this hallowed place, we pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice.”
At the ceremony, the president also recognized the men and women of the armed forces. “When our enemies attacked the Pentagon,” he said, “they pierced the rings of this building, but they could not break the resolve of the United States Armed Forces.” It was a sincere, moving tribute to all that the Pentagon – the understated, sprawling low-rise, built in a hurry in Hell’s Bottom on the Potomac – had stood for since 1943, and now, thanks to the work of those who’d rebuilt it, would embody for at least another half-century.