By Susan C. Galentine | Directorate of Public Works sustainability specialist
FORT CARSON, Colo. — The red brick exterior of the Fort Carson Education Center, building 1117, belies the transformation of the interior achieved through a Directorate of Public Works (DPW) renovation project completed in October 2020.
Initially a barracks building constructed in the 1950s, the Education Center administrative and classroom spaces, underwent an extensive, two-year, $8 million overhaul to open, upgrade and brighten rooms to accommodate education opportunities for Soldiers, Family members and Department of the Army civilians.
“A couple of years ago I proposed an in-house design and construction project to DPW director for a ‘functional’ Education Center with state-of-the-art classrooms, testing rooms, HVAC, power/lighting, fire protection and telecommunication systems that could be delivered at a much more reasonable cost than previously estimated,” said Jeff Jafarzadeh, DPW Engineering Division Facilities Branch chief. “The proposed cost was much lower than the initial design, which we could not afford to build at Fort Carson with available funds.”
The reimagined interior was designed with several improvements in mind, according to Jafarzadeh. Enhancements include energy-efficient light emitting diode (LED) lights and an HVAC system, which improves heating, cooling and outside air ventilation to increase comfort and productivity for staff and students.
“Interior improvements are mostly in terms of the modern reception area, testing centers and the classrooms. One other significant item is the brand-new furniture in all offices and classrooms including power and telecommunication ports,” Jafarzadeh said. “The new interior finishes give the building a feeling of a brand-new building. We also added the much-needed up-to-date telecommunication systems, audio/visual equipment and screens in all classrooms.”
Ed Center staff moved back to building 1117 mid-November after temporary relocation to buildings 1011 and 1012 during the renovation.
“We are very excited to occupy the newest and most likely the best education center across IMCOM,” said Mike Webb, director of Human Resources. “The renovations made by the DPW team to this facility will allow our educational partners, Soldiers and Family members the greatest opportunity to continue their higher educational needs in a state-of-the art facility.”
The staff worked quickly to open the doors of their improved building, which regularly accommodates more than 100,000 users a year.
“Education personnel are very excited to be in the renovated building,” said Rebecca Schlecht, Education Services Officer for the Directorate of Human Resources.
Staff commented how open and bright the space is now. They love the furnishings and use of vivid colors throughout.
“It feels like a student learning center instead of barracks,” Schlecht added.
Spc. Ghanel Wells, Alpha Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division (4th ID), who supports the Education Center staff by checking in Soldiers coming in for testing, likes the “educational vibe” of the center.
“It makes me feel like going to school,” she said.