FORT IRWIN, Calif.- A nondescript lot with a few tumbleweeds and sage bushes out in the High Desert will soon become a hub of activity for Soldiers at Fort Irwin and the National Training Center as leaders at Fort Irwin broke ground on an $18 million unaccompanied enlisted barracks and company operations facility.

The projects, which are being spearheaded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will provide state-of-the-art housing for 88 single soldiers and administrative space for two companies with both being built to LEED Silver certification.

"We don't often to get to do things for our single soldiers," Fort Irwin Garrison Commander Col. Jim Chevallier said. "What we do want to do is provide world-class facilities for all of them, because our soldiers deserve it."

While families have benefitted from the more than 1,000 new homes that have been built at Fort Irwin as part of the Army's privatized housing initiative, the new barracks facility is designed at improving the quality of life for single soldiers at Fort Irwin, some of whom are living in barracks facilities ranging from 50 years old to relatively new, Chevallier said.

"Our goal is to make Fort Irwin as great a place to live as it is to train, serve and deploy from," Chevallier said.

Capt. Tiffany Maraccini, deputy resident engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Irwin, said the Corps is committed to providing soldiers with world-class living spaces.

"We will help provide premiere accommodations for the world's premiere soldiers at the world's premiere training center," Maraccini said.

The barracks facility will include a CQ station, day room and centralized laundry room along with full kitchens in each of the rooms, Maraccini said.

A representative from the contractor building the barracks facility, Mortenson Construction from Minneapolis, Minn., Jim Mills said the project is the company's first opportunity to work at Fort Irwin.

"We are very excited to be doing this project," Mills said, noting that the company has a group specializing in military construction.

The company's goal is to build a quality product that is on-time and on-budget, he said.

"One of the interesting parts of this project is the shade structure for the picnic area, which will be solar hot water heating panels," Mills said, adding that the project is being built with sustainable features and its exterior landscaping will blend in with the surrounding area.

The company operations facility, which is being built by RQC, is expected to be completed by November, while the barracks facility is expected to be completed in early 2011.