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Modular Reserve Centers May Be Wave of Future

By Maj. Donna Miles, USAR
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 1996 – A new joint service reserve training center under construction in New Hampshire could become a blueprint for the way all tomorrow's military construction projects are designed and built.

What makes the new Armed Forces Reserve Center in Manchester, N.H., unique is it's the first military facility based on a new modular design system.


In past projects, architects essentially designed classroom, kitchen, maintenance and drill hall space from scratch. But under the modular design system drawn up by Army Reserve engineers, they select from already designed units -- not unlike the way a child might piece together Lego pieces to come up with a completed project.


Gary Puryear of the 94th Regional Support Command, construction project officer for the new center, said building designers avoid "reinventing the wheel" because the modular system has already solved problems that arose in earlier design projects.


He said modular construction is faster and more efficient than traditional design methods. Architects using the concept came up with plans for the new facility in less than six months -– about one-third of the usual time.


Puryear said saving time means saving money, and that makes the new design concept promising for just about any military construction project -- from base headquarters buildings and barracks to support facilities like classrooms and gyms. He said the Naval Reserve has expressed interest in using the modular design system for some of its construction projects. Active duty installations are expected to soon have modular-designed buildings soon.


Puryear stressed centers built under the modular design concept won't necessarily look alike because "pieces" -- classrooms and so forth -- come in different sizes and configurations.


"You basically pick the pieces you need and put them here and there as you set up the modules," agreed Robert Spiridigliozzi, program manager for the Army Reserve's modular design system. "It gives you a lot of flexibility."


Building exteriors designed under the modular design system will look different, too. "We don't want buildings that look like they came out of a cookie cutter," Spiridigliozzi said. "A lot of thought goes into blending buildings into the area where they're being built."


When construction wraps up within the next two years, the Manchester reserve center will serve as a central training and maintenance facility for some 1,000 Army, Navy and Marine Corps reservists. The $16.9 million center will include more than 100,000 square feet of training and office space, plus a sprawling 43,000-square-foot maintenance facility.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn artist's rendering of the Armed Forces Reserve Center being built in Manchester, N.H., shows the modular design that centers around the country could use.  
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