Exterior repairs are underway on the old Evergreen Elementary School near the Madigan Gate on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The former school, replaced with a new building across the street in January 2017, is getting a second lease on life.
The 112,000 square foot structure, built in 1991, is slated to be the new home for the Enterprise Multimedia Center and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. Both entities have outgrown their current accommodations. Once renovations are complete they will be able to stretch out in what is anticipated to be a state-of-the-art facility.
“First, we’re concentrating on the building’s envelope,” said Charles Markham, JBLM Public Works director. “We’re replacing the roof, windows and looking to ensure the structure is good before moving a few walls and other minor, structural renovations inside.”
Markham said being able to repurpose the structure not only saves money but also time. Buildings in the current military construction timeline for new proposed projects won’t be ready until 2025. Couple that with the estimated $60 to $80 million cost of a new training facility of this size and the renovation just makes more sense.
When Barbara Farino, JBLM Training Support Branch chief, heard about the plans to move the troop school into old Evergreen she said, “it was like winning the lottery.”
The current troop school is functioning out of 13 classrooms that need to be reconfigured for the various lessons. The new space is anticipated to have 34 classrooms, a dining area and conference center.
“Right now we’re limited by our footprint and capacity,” Farino said. “When we move to the new facility it’s going to not only increase our number of classrooms but make the learning environment more conducive to learning. It will be better overall for the Soldiers.”
In addition to the limited space, Soldiers often have to leave the area for required training cutting into the unit’s training funds. Because local training doesn’t incur additional expenses, once renovations are complete, the need to travel off-site is expected to be reduced, bringing down unit training budgets.
Robert Delgado, Enterprise Multimedia Center visual information manager, spoke about their support functions and current and projected capabilities.
“We’re in two locations now, one on (Lewis Main) where we do (Department of Army) photos and multimedia production work, and another on McChord Field that takes care of all of the graphics and signs you see on the installation,” Delgado said. “We’re bursting at the seams with production requests. The school house is going to give us a larger footprint to better facilitate a larger flow of DA photos and production capabilities.”
The plans include four editing suites, a television studio, two DA photo studios, eight changing rooms and the gymnasium will be dedicated to the graphics department which will give them full capability to produce larger products such as rehearsal of concept drill maps and large banners.
Farino and Delgado both expressed their excitement for this project — from expanded teaching capabilities and production assets, to establishing the first completely wireless training campus in the Army.
While the expected completion date is still several years out, with the priority now being to preserve the structure, and the final layout still being flexible at this stage, ultimately the improvements are expected to greatly benefit the entire installation.