PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- If you were standing outside Building 30 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), you would quickly realize it is one of the oldest buildings on the north end of the shipyard.
Its journey began in the 19th century, and from there, it has quite a history.
Over the past 130 years, Building 30 has been a timber shed and a dry storage for lumber and supplies used to build, refit, and retrofit wooden ships. It survived two fires, functioned as the shipyard’s sawmill, and was the home of public works surveyors, multiple supply department offices, and various members of the engineering and planning department (Code 200).
Having served many functions over time, the facility faced wear and tear from weather and age. It reached the point of sorely needing an upgrade in technology and more space for employees.
“This building was chosen at the time because it was in the worst shape of the buildings on the north end,” said Allen Pace, Code 223 branch head and facility manager. “It is important for us to update our buildings and have the technology we need to meet the demands of our mission and country. It is just as important as taking care of our people. We would not be able to function without them, so it makes sense we put them first and give them what they need to improve their work environment and quality of life.”
The structure and technology within Building 30 has gone through a near complete transition from its original state. The 26-million-dollar project displays historic features, artifacts, photos and artwork while meeting the most current anti-terrorism/force protection guidelines and historic preservation rules.
“We put a lot of work into this building to bring it up to code while restoring the historic features," said Dan Bischof, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) construction manager. "We removed seven layers of paint to bring out the original structural bricks, and uncovered cobblestone and paver stones from the 1800s. Those are placed in the southside of the building. When you walk through the building, you might feel like you are in a museum. You will find many things that represent the past, present, and future through pictures, wall murals, and the blend of innovation and technology.”
When the engineers returned to their building in February, they were able to distinguish where they would work by the various images on the wall which pertained to their job, and enhance how far they have come in the past 130 years and where they are headed.
“The engineers coming in here are going to really see a big difference in the building from what it used to be,” said Bischof. “They now have state-of-the-art kitchens, upgraded bathrooms with showers, state-of-the-art work spaces and engineering tables, just to name a few.”
The facility was also designed to centralize more engineers, which will allow them to provide better services to the ships and submarines being repaired and overhauled at NNSY.
“This building is setting the stage for facilities, and it really folds into our 'C.O.R.E.' philosophy: Care, Ownership, Respect, and Excellence,” said Shipyard Commander Capt. Kai Torkelson. “If we recruit and bring new workers in and show them the state-of-the-art facilities that they are going to be working in, and let them know that this is the sign for our respect of the workforce, and for the work they do every day.”
The renovation project of Building 30 has also given the shipyard a chance to show the engineers who once occupied the facility a new standard of care after being displaced for more than two years.
“We are putting people first; that is what we are working on here in the shipyard,” said Mike Zydron, Code 200 engineering planning manager. “We are developing our people from a command-philosophy standpoint. We have to take care of our people - all of them. We don’t need fancy, but I believe we got it. We need clean, safe, and functional here in the shipyard to do our jobs. That is absolutely what this building is giving us, and the ability to continue to execute our mission with a diverse workforce and deliver continued support to the fleet worldwide.”
Renovations and upgrades in older buildings at NNSY are proving to not only benefit the shipyard and fleet, but are setting the standard to enhance the quality of life of employees, longevity of the buildings, and in some cases, setting the renovation and functionality bar at a new level.
“Through dedication, hard work, and a team effort, this project has really set the bar going forward very high," said Cmdr. Ben Wainwright, NNSY Public Works officer. "I am very excited this dream is now a reality. From here, we can only improve our efforts going forward. This project is a perfect example of teamwork and coordination, and the reason why NNSY is 'America’s Shipyard.'”
The NNSY and Public Works team have already begun groundwork on the next major north-end project - the renovation and upgrades of Building 31, which is a facility in critical need of repair and is part of the 2040 NNSY Optimization Plan. It is the only building on the north end that has not been renovated in the last 30 years.
For more news from Norfolk Naval Shipyard, visit www.navy.mil/local/nnsy/.