A Fresh Approach to the Privatization of Army Lodging
Camp Huachuca, a temporary army base, was established at the foot of the mountains in what is now Cochise County during the Indian Wars, in March, 1877. It was re-designated a fort in 1882 and in March, 1977, the original Fort Huachuca encampment was officially declared a National
Today’s military installation projects a distinctly more modern, 21st Century persona. It is home for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command. It’s also headquarters of the Army Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS), the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), and the Electronic Proving Ground (EPG). Special training is part of Fort Huachuca’s mission and in today’s army, soldiers often are moved from base to base for such purposes. Thus, temporary residents make up a significant, constant contingent of fort assignees. Whether it is for days, weeks or months, they need a place to call home.
Enter, PAL – Privatization of Army Lodging – an Army-led public-private venture that started in 2009 under the Lend Lease program to revitalize on-post transient housing for soldiers, their families and all official government travelers. As hotel accommodations are built or upgraded, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) takes over operation and management.
PABCO Gypsum’s QuietRock® Provides Standard for Architect’s Drywall Specs
Now in its third phase, PAL encompasses 39 military installations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. New hotels are constructed to Candlewood Suites’ standards, reports Michael Fries, AIA, the founder and President of Scottsdale, Arizona-based FM GROUP INC. The Candlewood Suites hotel is located on fort property and opened in October, 2014. Initial architectural drawings, however, were submitted in 2012.
“QuietRock was chosen as the basis for design in the prototype we were given for this project,” Fries says. “We liked it and kept it. At the time, QuietRock was pretty much ‘it’ in terms of meeting standards required for multifamily housing or hospitality facilities; fire code hour ratings between assemblies, for example, and STC (Sound Transmission Coefficient) ratings. “With hotels such as these, studies have been done to determine how much noise causes occupant aggravation. Candlewood Suites has its own minimum STC ratings for horizontal and vertical assemblies such as a corridor wall, a demising wall, floor-to-ceiling wall, a wall between an elevator core and adjacent rooms, or from a laundry.”
Fries said another critical technical element involves occupant safety, specifically, fire codes. “Years ago, most facilities were built using concrete block, had outside corridors and met code requirements. As construction costs went up and demands for more power, telephones, TV and internet exploded, cheaper ways to build more penetration-friendly walls inherently brought back safety issues and ratings.”
While meeting codes, however, Fries points out that several features distinguish military hotels in general, and this Candlewood Suites in particular, from others. “The view from here is gorgeous – one of the most dramatic anywhere.” The hotel is built on the edge of the base and looks right into the mountains. The Huachuca Mountains range comes northward from the Mexico border and extends into the property. Unlike typical Candlewood Suites, however, which are linear-shaped and have 100-120 guest rooms, this four-floor structure is one of the largest ever-built to-date (243 rooms) and is shaped like a U.
Military-specific features distinguish it from others, too. “We doubled up on various amenities and functional areas, some because this hotel is larger; some because of military ‘guest’ schedules,” explains Fries. “We have two elevator banks and doubled the amount of guest laundry capabilities, plus a larger breakfast/great room area. While civilian-hotel guests have individual, varying schedules, here virtually all guests are showering at the same time, having breakfast at the same time, and going to and from PT in mass. Thus, the food prep area is 70% larger, hot water capacity is much larger – you get the idea.”
Some typical civilian facility amenities are eliminated or pared down, such as the exercise room. “PT is part of every soldier’s daily routine,” Fries points out. “The last thing they want to do in the evening is hit the gym.”
Meeting Multiple Facility and User Needs, Within Budget Constraints
Soldier needs, overall military demands, project code requirements and the like all converge when specifying and building the Candlewood Suites. PABCO Gypsum delivered on all counts.
About 200,000 sq. ft. of the company’s QuietRock products were used on this project, according to Ken Elliott, Vice President-Vendor Relations for J& B Materials, Inc., in El Cajon, California. “Mostly EZ-Snap QuietRock ES Mold Resistant drywall, plus some QuietRock 545,” said Elliott, indicating patented EZ-Snap technology has rapidly gained popularity among contractors who can simply score, snap and hang boards like regular drywall.
Architects, including Fries, also recognize and appreciate the dual mold resistance and sound damping qualities of QuietRock ES. It provides maximum mold resistance (score of 10) per ASTM D3273 while also meeting or exceeding customer noise reduction requirements, with an STC rating of 55 – all with a single layer. QuietRock ES is a Type X panel. In this case, Fries used UL Design No. U305 to achieve a one-hour fire rating, along with the STC-55 rating.
“The biggest issue for architects with specialty products is, you don’t want to add to cost,” Fries asserts. “PABCO’s QuietRock enables us to meet fire, mold and/or acoustical requirements – do two or three things – with a single board.”
“We’ve used PABCO in the past, but this is our first Candlewood Suites,” Fries sums up. “While QuietRock is a technically advanced product, contractors love the fact that it handles the same – it’s hung the same – finishes go on it the same as with standard drywall. We’re very pleased with the way it went up at Fort Huachuca and it looks great. In fact, we have specified it on all future projects that we’re doing as part of the PAL program.”