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Posted 2/19/2013

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By Sean McBride
Corporate Communications

A little more than a decade ago, off-duty Navy Sailors used to walk through the Navy Base in North Charleston to a particular building and throw bowling balls down the lanes at the ten pins waiting to crash down. Now, civilians walking to that same building are headed to work to help Department of State (DOS) employees worldwide with their human resources (HR) needs.

In that time, the old Navy Base has been turned into what is now known as the Federal Complex and now hosts several federal agencies, both military and civilian. Many buildings on the complex have been repurposed to fit the needs of new tenants.

The building that was once a bowling alley was originally expanded and turned into a physical fitness center for officers at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center to train in hand-to-hand combat. Now, the building is operated by the DOS and they’ve taken a whole new approach to using the space.

The $10.5 million renovated 40,000 sq. ft. facility will now be home to the DOS HR department. In an effort to reduce the costs of operating out of a Washington, D.C. facility, DOS is relocating many of their HR operations to the Lowcountry. The updated building will now also host a 24-hour call center that will take questions from DOS employees around the world about any personnel issues they may be having.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done work for the Department of State,” said Shawn Boone, project manager. “This project is bringing to light a new relationship and new potential project partnership opportunities in the future.”

The project will be submitted for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification. The most unique qualifying aspect of the project was the installation of several “light tubes” on the ceiling of the building. These approximately 18 foot long tubes provide solar light inside the building, thereby reducing the energy costs necessary to illuminate employees’ workspaces. Other qualifying factors for the award include that the project was a renovation, versus a new construction, and that construction debris was separated and recycled during the process instead of hauling it to the landfill.

“Staff from two major agencies worked closely together for a long time on this large and complex project,” said Cyrus Balan, DOS project manager. “The team overcame construction and coordination challenges, last-minute changes, and unforeseen conditions that required a superior skill set and level of professionalism and teamwork that is rarely achieved. We look forward to working with the Corps of Engineers in the future.”

The Charleston District is also looking forward to other potential projects with the DOS in the future and hopes that the new occupants of this HR facility don’t hear the echoes of old bowling pins in the hallways.