Bringing Alfie back to the Presidio
June 30, 2009
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - When Alfie Khalil died in 2006, it resonated upon all who knew him at the Defense Language Institute and the Presidio of Monterey.
And as commanders change, teachers move on, and students graduate, his legacy was slowly fading.
But as the building named after Khalil rises piece-by-piece, his legacy will soon be revived, even cemented in time for students, faculty and administrators.
Only this time the legacy will provide them with the most up-to-date technologies and teaching space to effectively teach and learn their target languages.
Last September, at the ground breaking for the new Alfie Khalil General Instruction Building (GIB), Col. Sue Ann Sandusky, DLIFLC commandant, used an Egyptian proverb in honor of the former faculty member and union leader.
"A house has the character of the man who lives in it," she said. "The character of this house will be admirable."
In addition to his high character, Khalil is also known for bringing locality pay to the faculty members to better reflect the economic realities of the job market here.
Even in death, his name has brought California and the city of Monterey a much needed financial lift.
"Having the contract has brought more construction jobs," said Will Meyer, project engineer with the POM Department of Public Works. "It has definitely impacted the economy here, with many of the workers coming from Sacramento and staying in the hotels in the area."
"We also use local materials for the building," said Jack Davies, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quality assurance manager.
It wasn't too long after the ceremony, that the sights and sounds of construction were seen by those who frequent the Presidio.
Meyer said the 81,000 sq. ft. building will have four floors with 60 classrooms that will hold 6 to 10 students at a time.
"All the classrooms will have smart boards and Common Access Card readers at the entrance doors," said Meyer.
Originally, the building was going to be five stories tall but financial difficulties required a reduction of one floor to stay within funding, which worked out favorably for Monterey residents -- it preserved the famed vistas that outline the Presidio of Monterey.
"It will actually stand three stories above street level," said Davies, adding that a shelf had to be cut into the hillside to create the first floor. The entrance will be accessed from the street by a bridge leading to the second floor.
There were other setbacks that had to be remedied to continue with the project; however, just as Khalil, a man known to "think outside the box" for solutions, did. Meyer and Davies had to do the same for the GIB.
"There was a lot of ground water seepage, so we had to design a French drain to control it and a soil-nail retaining wall to control the steep terrain," said Meyer.
Just as Khalil understood the importance of having facilities like the GIB, Meyer and Davies take this construction project as serious as the mission to produce quality linguists.
"I think the best way to fight this war is to understand the cultural aspects," said Davies, who came out of retirement to be a part of this project.
"(It's) something I couldn't refuse. I was in the Peace Corps and a teacher, so I could understand the need for this building," he added.
The Alfie Khalil General Instruction Building is set to open November 2010.