Engineers in South Korea design U.S. Space Force headquarters ‘from scratch’
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District’s new client is the U.S. Space Force. The District has been tasked with creating a design for their new headquarters building at Osan Air Base, South Korea. (Photo Credit: Sameria Zavala) VIEW ORIGINAL

Often in construction, existing design concepts are used to inspire new builds, but that’s not the case for the first U.S. Space Force (USSF) headquarters at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

Designing a building project as intricate as this, takes keen engineer minds to accomplish.

“Because this is the first USSF project, there are no design standards or any other reference material,” said Tina Kim, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District technical lead. “We feel like we are building the project ‘from scratch.’ As much as it is challenging, it is also very interesting to learn about the client’s mission, the peculiarities of their functions and the requirements.”

The site is located on a steep incline of a hill, which has height restrictions, due to the imaginary surface (man-made objects or natural growth extending upward in navigable airspace) from the airfield.

At the outset, the site conditions appeared as problems to overcome. After analyzing the user’s needs and requirements, the characteristics of the site became a design opportunity. In the design, each of the three new buildings are placed strategically on the hill, utilizing the slope to its benefit.

The design also required close coordination with three user groups: U.S. Space Force Korea, Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Squadron, and the Air Force Technical Applications Center. During this coordination, the team gathered and documented the project requirements through questionnaires, interviews, and charrettes.

The project delivery team is approximately 60 percent complete with creating the proposal, to advance to the next phase of design by October 2022. This in-house capability trims down the total completion time by passing the viable proposal along to the Engineering Division’s Design, Geotechnical and Environmental, and Cost Engineering Branches for the design process.

The project is funded by both U.S. military construction (MILCON) and Republic of Korea funded construction (ROKFC), host nation monies, which require multiple construction phasing.

Phase I, encompasses a new administrative building. Phase II, which houses the operations function, will be funded by MILCON. Phase III, a new maintenance facility, will be provided by ROKFC funding.

“I think that the best part of undertaking a planning project is utilizing our expertise as designers to organize information and methodically, yet creatively, finding the order in solving the problem,” said Kim.