Pentagon Renovation Continues On Schedule
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 30, 2005 Renovation of the second wedge of the Pentagon is nearly completed, keeping the program on schedule and even slightly under budget, the program's director said here Sept. 29.
Wedge 2 will be completed and occupied by the end of November, and work already has started on the first section of Wedge 3, said Kenneth Catlow, director of the Pentagon Renovation and Construction Program Office. By the end of 2005 or early 2006, the second section of Wedge 3 will be vacated to prepare for construction, which will shut down the River Terrace, he said.
The $1 billion project started in the early 1990s and involves a complete overhaul of the interior of the Defense Department headquarters. The building is being renovated in five wedges. Wedge 1 was almost complete when a hijacked commercial airliner slammed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Catlow said. The plane struck that section, so it had to be rebuilt while construction continued on Wedge 2, he explained.
Different contractors were handling the two sections at that time, so work was completed quickly, Catlow said. "Within a year after the plane hit the building, we had people back, sitting in the building exactly where the plane came in," he said.
On an average day, about 2,000 construction and information-technology workers are working on the renovation in the Pentagon, Catlow said. Also, 400 people work in management of the program, he said. The goal of all these employees, he said, is to make the transition as smooth as possible for the people moving into and out of the newly-renovated and soon-to-be-renovated sections.
"We work really hard to take care of all those customers," he said. "Our people are absolutely phenomenal."
Moving people poses a serious challenge, especially because the people who work in the Pentagon are often the most senior from every military department, Catlow said. There is always concern about maintaining the mission, and there is sometimes tension, but his staff has been successful at managing the transitions, he said.
Catlow recently had a chance to brief acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England about the renovation program, and he said that meeting gave him a lot of validation for his work.
"If the deputy secretary of defense tells me that he's hearing nothing but good about what the program's doing -- which is what he told me personally -- then I think we're being successful," he said.
The renovation is making the Pentagon a more modern, efficient office environment, Catlow said. Utilities usage has gone down significantly in the remodeled sections, and reliability of technology systems has been increased, he said.
"We'll have a much more reliable facility -- a much more work-friendly environment -- when we're done," he said. "It'll be a modern, safe, code-compliant office and command center for the Department of Defense. And that's worth what it costs to get it done."
Catlow said he and his staff members take pride in the work they're doing on the Pentagon, because they know it's an investment in the future of the military.
"I feel like we're renovating this building for the American soldier, because that's what the Department of Defense is all about," he said. "What I'm doing here, in the Pentagon renovation program, is going to support those folks out in the field."
Work on Wedge 3 is scheduled to be completed in October 2007. After that, Wedges 4 and 5 will be renovated, and the entire project is expected to be completed by December 2010.