GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – A ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 30 celebrated the renovation and reopening of historical building 541 on Tower Barracks.
The original building 541 was built in the 1930s as a barracks building for German soldiers when the Grafenwoehr training area was still used by the German military. Prior to the renovation it was last used as a general purpose administrative facility for U.S Army Garrison Bavaria.
The facility will be the new headquarters of the 15th Engineer Battalion, a unit with a history dating back to 1916, which now supports U.S. Army Europe and Africa and NATO in training international forces.
At the ceremony, Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Poole and distinguished guests celebrated the event.
“That’s what we love about Grafenwoehr – it is a location with over 100 years of history, but also a platform and state of the art training area for the best soldiers of the world, surrounded by our great German partners in beautiful Grafenwoehr, Bavaria,” said Poole.
Currently the 15th Engineer Battalion has a total of six companies in Germany, five of them here in Grafenwoehr. With an additional Multi-Role Bridge Company arriving soon and roughly 500 soldiers to fit, Lt. Col. Dennis Louck, 15th Engineer battalion commander, is very happy about the additional space.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to highlight the cooperation between our community and our installation, Louck said. “As engineers we enjoy construction so a new building is even that more exciting. This really represents additional capacity and capability that we are going to bring into this installation.”
Apart from Poole and Louck several other guests joined the event. Among them Grafenwoehr Mayor Edgar Knobloch, 18th Military Police Brigade Commander Col. Chad Froehlich, representatives of the Federal Real Estate Office (BImA), of the leading contractor working the renovation, the Department of Public Works, the Corps of Engineers and many more.
“All in all, this was one of the smoothest construction sites that we had within the last 10 years,” said DPW Chief Project Management Branch Andrea Hoesl.
Hoesl’s team was in charge of the renovation of the building, from the financing, the design and planning process, to the actual renovation work. According to Hoesl this project in particular was a special one because it was a direct project. Due to the special permission from the German State Construction Office the whole renovation project was solely worked by the DPW and the Corps of Engineers.
“Today, we are not just celebrating the completion of the construction project of building 541, but we are celebrating excellence in partnership,” said Resident Engineer Edwin Vasquez from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe, District Grafenwoehr. “The big testament for this project has been the partnership and I think this ribbon cutting really celebrates that.”
Vasquez feels very proud and looks forward to future successful projects and to expand this cultural partnership. “I’ve only just arrived in Grafenwoehr in January, but it didn’t take long to recognize and become aware of the great partners that we have,” he explained. The whole project cost $9.5 million (7.5 million euros). While this project encountered various problems along the way such as findings of contaminations and unexploded ordinances, COVID, and delivery issues, the project was finished successfully and within a timely manner.
The building follows both German and American force protection and safety standards and is wheelchair accessible. During renovation historical elements were preserved and environmental aspects were taken into consideration, such as the annual nesting of swallows on the roof of the building.