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Air Force Academy Spirit

Vandenberg Hall boasts new facelift

Cadet 4th Class Lee Bussey pulls personal belongings out of a trunk in his new dormitory in the Academy’s Vandenberg Hall Monday. Photo by Staff Sgt. Don Branum

Cadet 4th Class Lee Bussey pulls personal belongings out of a trunk in his new dormitory in the Academy’s Vandenberg Hall Monday. Photo by Staff Sgt. Don Branum

By Ann Patton

Academy Spirit staff


With a half-century of wear and tear under its belt, Vandenberg Hall is now receiving some much-needed renovations.

Before the upgrades, the cadet dormitories in the east side of Vandenberg Hall were “dismal” and a “draft trap,” said Lt. Col. Justin Davey, 10th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.

The nine-phase project began with upgrades to mechanical systems and infrastructure in Phase 1. Phase 2 was the first to include renovation of rooms and common areas on all levels in Vandenberg Tower. Construction on that phase finished at the end of 2009, in time for Cadet Squadrons 02, 04, 06 and 08 to move in after winter break.

“The old windows were more like screens,” said Cadet 4th Class Daniel Gregory from CS-04. “I definitely felt a breeze sitting at my old desk.”

His roommate, Cadet 4th Class Lee Bussey, said he was also pleased with the renovation.

“I like it. The windows don’t rattle, and they’re warmer,” he said.

Rusty Meyer, the Cadet Wing deputy director for training support, said the lack of insulated windows was the biggest issue.

“The windows didn’t fill the space very well,” he said and noted that sometimes as much as two or three inches of snow would pile up on window sills. The windows rattled on windy days, and noises from the outside also penetrated the windows.

Dorm manager Carey Bonnin said the move into the 224 bedrooms went smoothly, and the rooms are strikingly light, warm and fresh.

“They are more or less brand new rooms,” he said.

Phase two renovations began in January last year at a cost of $24.4 million. The infrastructure redevelopment firm Weston Solutions Inc. served as the primary contractor.

Renovations included replacements of all curtain walls, heating systems piping, radiators and control, domestic water pipes and drains, building substations and electrical risers. Bathrooms were upgraded with new fixtures and tiles and improved ventilation and lighting. Rooms saw improvements in lighting, individual temperature controls and communications lines needed for modern electronics.

Hallway ceilings were lowered to allow for renovated fire suppression systems, and doors and interior wood work were refinished.

Phase 2 represented 107,851 square feet of building space, including rooms, halls and bathrooms.

Dorm rooms measure about 12 feet by 14 feet. Double occupancy rooms include a set of drawers for each cadet, bed, desk and chair as well as two lounge chairs and a small table. In three-occupant rooms, two of the beds are stacked as bunk beds, and the rooms do not have the lounge chairs and small table. All rooms contain closets and static vanities with sinks.

Jim Rosa, cadet services director with the 10th CES, said moving furniture and personal goods around to accommodate construction was a challenge in the beginning but those involved in the move now have a clearer idea of what needs to be done in future phases.

Phase 3 includes 210 cadet rooms in the section west of the Phase 2 construction area.

Mr. Rosa praised the contractor for keeping cadet safety in mind with, for example, a protective arch structure in the construction zone which leads into the post office area.

Colonel Davey said in the early planning stages to renovate Vandenberg Hall, thoughts were given to somewhat of a band-aid approach to improvements, which were abandoned as 10th CES uncovered major mechanical problems.

Mr. Meyer said resolving those problems required tearing into walls for such projects as lowering ceilings for fire suppression.

“They did it the right way by going into the infrastructure system,” he said.

A major consideration in the renovation project was preserving the architectural integrity of the building while making badly needed repairs and upgrades. The Academy is on the National Register of Historic Places and subject to statutory guidelines managed by the State Historic Preservation Officer in Denver.

Plans call for six-month time periods each for the remaining construction phases as funding permits.

“We’re looking forward to having all nine phases done,” Mr. Rosa said.

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