The National Geospatial-lntelligence Agency (NGA) welcomed its first wave of employees at its new facility located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on Tuesday. Approximately 300 personnel reported to work at NGA Campus East, the first of 38 groups that will make the move to the eight-story building between now and September 15, 2011, the day of the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The $1.7 billion 2.4 million square foot campus, which is 85 percent complete, will eventually house 8,500 employees. It brings personnel from six sites that were consolidated by the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005. Design of the building began in 2006, and construction began in 2007.
To take advantage of lessons learned by other big construction projects, the design team had NGA employees and an architect to tour several other large buildings-both government and commercial-to determine which attributes would and would not work for the new facility.
Features of the complex include areas that facilitate both physical and virtual collaboration (SIGNAL Magazine, April 2010). According to Letitia Long, director, NGA, both the ability for quick collaboration and the improvements in information technology will reduce reaction time between request and delivery of geospatial intelligence from several hours to just minutes in some cases.
In addition, the computer systems within the building allow NGA personnel to sit down at any computer and bring up their desktop and even their program settings regardless of their home station. The facility also features a 300-person conference center that will be available for use by the U.S. Defense Department and other members of the intelligence community, and individual conference rooms can be set up to accommodate various levels of classified discussions.
Because the building is so large, it has sections called "neighborhoods," which make finding offices easier. Rooms where personnel from different neighborhoods can meet to collaborate are available in several places on each floor. In addition, the design enables collaboration centers to be set up quickly when crises arise.
To ensure the security of the building, the location on Fort Belvoir was secured before construction began. Security personnel were hired to observe workers as they installed everything from concrete support beams to plumbing, Thomas Bukoski, deputy director, facility programs office explains.