The new Devens campus, at a cost of $77 million, comprises 7 buildings, 55 acres, and 276,000 square feet, making it one of the largest Armed Forces Reserve Centers in the country. To clear space for the new construction, work on the site began by first tearing down an existing building—the largest military facility prior to the construction of the Pentagon. That process was complicated by two factors: first, once on site, we discovered that there were more hazardous materials present in the building than the government had initially anticipated or specified in the scope of work; second, despite the construction activity, Devens needed to remain fully functional during the construction process, requiring careful phasing considerations on the part of the design-build team.
Designing for Defense
If we had to define the main objective of SMMA’s Government Studio, at its most simplistic, it would be this: Provide design solutions that allow those who serve this country to best do their jobs. It is especially gratifying to guide our government clients to successful outcomes—to provide a service for those who dedicate their lives to the service of America. We’ve been fortunate to work on a number of projects for the Federal Government, but few can match the scale, complexity, and time constraints of the Armed Forces Reserve Center at Fort Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts.
Setting the precedent as SMMA’s first reserve center project, Fort Devens greatly informed our design methodology on subsequent reserve centers in Vermont, and proved that military buildings are capable of realizing aesthetic ideals while conforming to exacting standards and budgetary limitations.
Saying nothing of the unexpected curveballs we faced along the way, the project, a design-build collaboration with J&J Contractors, presented numerous challenges from the outset. Namely: the size and scale of the work, the fast-track schedule required to meet a non-negotiable completion date, and the environmental factors inherent to the site, as well as the fact that the complex needed to meet the requirements and accommodate the needs of three distinct user groups—the Army Reserve, the Massachusetts Army National Guard, and the Marine Corps Reserve.