By Story and photo by Mike Strasser/West Point Pointer ViewJune 16, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- The first phase of construction for the new U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School is expected to be complete in time for the USMAPS Reception Day July 18. More than 240 new cadet candidates will form the first class to occupy the new facilities located inside Washington Gate.
The candidates will be able to sleep in the new barracks and eat in the dining facility while USMAPS staff and faculty will occupy office space in the state-of-the-art academic building. The soccer field and surrounding track should be completed, as well as the indoor athletic facility, referred to by many as “The Bubble,” due to its large dome structure. This facility will house much of the equipment that will be transferred when the larger athletic building is finished"to include the wrestling, weight and aerobic fitness rooms and lockers.
“All of that will temporarily be placed on the concrete floor inside the Bubble this first year. Then after it’s moved to the new facility, we’ll put turf down and use it as an indoor practice facility,” Lt. Col. Michael Rounds, USMAPS Deputy Commandant, said.
Like its predecessor at Fort Monmouth, N.J., Rounds said the indoor practice facility could also be used for battalion formations, physical fitness tests and in-processing for Cadet Candidate Basic Training. Likewise, the three-floor barracks, with two rooms separated by a shared bathroom, is an exact replica of the living space cadet candidates had formerly occupied.
“I was very happy with our current design for our barracks, so during the initial design process I put together a sketch for the architects,” Col. Tyge Rugenstein, USMAPS Commandant, said. “In the end, that’s what they were able to do. I think the contractors are doing a great job. I’ve seen an overhead picture of the campus area from March of last year and one taken this past March. In a one-year time frame the contractor has completed a remarkable amount of work.”
The USMAPS project, estimated at a cost of nearly $104 million, is the result of the Fort Monmouth closing recommended by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure commission. Construction is under the purview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-N.Y. District. EwingCole, the Philadelphia-based architecture and engineering firm, was lead for the initial design and developed the request for proposal, but Rugenstein has been entrenched in the process from the very beginning. Rugenstein was commissioned into the Engineer Corps after graduating from West Point in 1983 and said the USMAPS project is the largest he’s been involved with in his career.
“The new campus is going to be state-of-the-art, and we’ve designed it exactly to our mission,” Rugenstein said. “I think that’s very exciting. The challenge will be integrating USMAPS into an academy that’s been here for over 200 years.”
Rugenstein has taken weekly walkthroughs of the new campus and his many trips across state lines are to ensure the campus meets the needs of the cadet candidates, staff and faculty.
“It’s been rewarding for me to see this through from the ground up,” Rugenstein said. “And it’s equally exciting to watch it continue to come together as well as it has.”
The USMAPS staff"about 52 civilians and military serving as faculty, administrative staff, coaches and senior staff"will make the 100-mile trek from Fort Monmouth to West Point. Several have been serving in coordination and planning operations as an advanced party within Cullum Hall.
The Class of 2012 and parents arriving for Reception Day will not be greeted on the new campus due to the continuation of Phase II construction. Similar to West Point’s version of R-Day, the cadet candidates will be in-processed and begin their initial transformation from a civilian to military mind set starting at Eisenhower Hall and ending in a swearing-in ceremony at Shea Stadium.
However, upon return in October for Parents’ Weekend, visitors will be able to see the facilities only months away from being finished. The second phase of the project is scheduled for completion in January 2012, which includes the academic and athletic buildings, and the lacrosse and football fields. Until the campus is complete, cadet candidates will be bused to the cadet area for classes in Cullum, Lincoln and Jefferson Halls each day. Some may conduct athletic training on the installation"like using Crandall Pool"or return to USMAPS to use the training grounds that are operational.
This is the third move of USMAPS since it was established in June 1946 at Stewart Army Air Field in Newburgh, just north of West Point. The school relocated in 1957 to Fort Belvoir, Va., and then took root in its current form at Fort Monmouth in 1975. Ending its 36-year relationship with the New Jersey installation, Rugenstein cased the school’s colors in May at the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2011.
“We had a great relationship with Fort Monmouth and central Jersey,” Rugenstein said. “The cadet candidates did a lot of community service, and the community leaders knew the school very well. So obviously it’s going to be hard leaving that relationship behind. But we’ve got a beautiful campus here. We’ve designed it to exactly what we need it to be, and there will be opportunities for cadet candidates to be part of the academy here that they didn’t have (at Fort Monmouth). The synergy created by being at West Point will help us to improve all aspects of our program"academic, military and physical.”
While the graduating cadet candidates were well-aware of their place in history as the last USMAPS class (their motto was “Saving the Best for Last”) at Fort Monmouth, the incoming class will have some bragging rights of their own.
“They will know their place in history because this year will be a challenge for both the cadet candidates and the staff and faculty.” Rugenstein said. “They’ll be the class that had to bus to class, practice athletics on fields all over West Point and live at an active construction site, but, ultimately, they will have the bragging rights of being the first USMAPS class at West Point.”
• The groundbreaking ceremony for USMAPS was held Sept. 18, 2009.
• In his sixth year as commandant, Col. Tyge Rugenstein will have the honor of uncasing the colors for the new school as part of the oath ceremony on R-Day, July 18.
• Since the summer of 2005, members of the Corps of Cadets have served as cadet cadre during CCBT and about 80 rising juniors and seniors will again lead cadet candidates through their initial training.