PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. Aca,!" Thanksgiving week was also moving week for some 65 members of the Presidio's Marine Corps Detachment who moved into Building 648, the most recent Presidio barracks to undergo extensive renovation. The Marines voiced approval of their new quarters.

"I'm very impressed with what's been done to Building 648," said Maj. Rodolfo Quiles, the detachment's executive officer.

Work on the barracks was completed on schedule in mid-November, said James Willison, the Presidio's Director of Public Works. Along with neighboring barracks Buildings 645 and 646, Building 648 was chosen for renovation in a $17.5 million project contracted through the Sacramento District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The project got underway in March 2007. Students of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) moved into renovated Building 645 when it was completed on schedule in December 2008. More students moved into renovated Building 646 in when it was completed on schedule in November 2009.

The engineers who drew up the improvement plans pursued the same aims in renovating each barracks. A primary goal was to make efficient use of the buildings' floor space. In multi-storied Building 648 the number of double-occupant rooms was reduced from 44 to 21 and in the remaining space 23 single-occupant rooms were configured.

The engineers sought to create rooms that compare favorably with those of commercial housing. Ceilings and exposed concrete walls of Building 648 have been resurfaced, which does much to remove the institutional ambiance of typical military barracks. The resurfacing also reduces noise, which makes the rooms more conducive to study, another aim of the renovators. The building's new bathrooms have tile floors and new plumbing fixtures. New kitchenettes with two-burner electric ranges and microwave ovens have been added, along with new sinks with garbage disposals. Some rooms have walk-in closets. Comfortably furnished common-access rooms with wide-screen televisions have been created.

In each renovated barracks, new lighting and new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems are in place. Electrical systems and plumbing have been redone. New fire alarms and fire protection systems have been installed.

Lance Cpl. Matthew Kalvin, one of the Detachment's Marines now quartered in Building 648, was quick to notice that the renovated building's cabling infrastructure appears to be state-of-the-art.

"The Internet connectivity is excellent," he said. "There was a time when military barracks weren't designed for occupants who made use of computers."

Lance Cpl. Bailey Williams said she finds the rooms of Building 648 easier to clean than those of her previous quarters.

"And I'm finding it easier to keep my gear in order," she added.

Williams said she follows a vegan lifestyle and likes to prepare her own meals.

"That makes me thankful for the cooking facilities," she said.

Cpl. Destiny Casci said the rooms of Building 648 have boosted occupants' standard of living and that in turn has lifted morale.

"I hope the rest of the barracks at the Presidio can be renovated as this one was," she said.

Quiles said the Presidio barracks renovation has shown itself to be well worth its cost because having a suitable place to study is a major factor in student success at DLIFLC.

"Barracks that are comfortable and maintained in a professional manner is a force-multiplier," he said. "For Marines, that's true in a fleet unit or in an academic environment."

Page last updated Wed December 1st, 2010 at 13:37