For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2023 Architect of the Year, the best part of the job is helping others reach their full potential. “It’s rewarding knowing that other people are benefiting from the services that I can provide,” said Breanna McBride, a senior architect at the Seattle District.
Each year, USACE’s Engineering and Construction Community of Practice recognizes employees and teams for excellence in performance, leadership, professional development and support. Ms. McBride is the second Architect of the Year from Seattle District since the award’s inception. This award recognizes her contributions to the field of architecture, technical leadership on large, complex projects and her work developing technical lead training and resources.
After leaving the private sector in 2019 to join the Seattle District, Ms. McBride found an institutional knowledge gap among new architects serving as technical leads on military construction projects. Ms. McBride then came up with a simple, yet effective solution: gather resources into a toolkit and start a monthly training series covering different aspects of the job.
“It’s a good place to find all the information. It’s a little bit like a Wikipedia page, where we can all build on it over time, keep improving it and making it better,” said Ms. McBride.
As support grew for Ms. McBride’s toolkit, word spread to other sections and districts. At an American Institute of Architects conference earlier this year, Ms. McBride shared her toolkit with 50 architects from other districts, many of whom now want to implement a similar program back home. This new precedent for knowledge sharing throughout USACE is also a testament to her mentor and trainer roles.
In addition to her work as a senior architect, Ms. McBride is involved in a variety of efforts throughout the district. As the sustainability coordinator, she develops resources, procedures and training to improve awareness of sustainability throughout district projects. Not one to rest on her laurels, Ms. McBride is also developing a sustainability-based toolkit in conjunction with USACE Headquarters and Northwestern Division to be used throughout the enterprise. Lastly, Ms. McBride also leads the monthly Design Branch Users Group meeting to troubleshoot issues and discuss solutions.
“I have a lot of different things that I’m involved in because whenever I see an area that can use improvement, I step up and try to make things better,” said Ms. McBride.
Ms. McBride has a bachelor’s degree in art history and minored in math at the University of California, Los Angeles. And due to her father’s business in the ceiling tile industry, her interest in construction started early.
After earning a master’s degree in architecture at San Diego’s NewSchool of Architecture and Design, she worked on a variety of projects that supported her love of design and logistics, from schools and country clubs to multifamily and residential properties.
A common theme that underpins Ms. McBride’s work, from her architectural projects to her mentorship efforts, is her passion for improving the world.
“I don’t like to sit by and accept the status quo,” explained Ms. McBride. “I’m always trying to look for ways that we can improve. I think in the architecture, design and construction fields, there are lots of opportunities to have impacts on the built environment, the way people use spaces, providing universally accessible spaces for people, and making sure we’re keeping the environment in mind for sustainability.”
Military working dogs might look like your average pet, but they are highly trained animals used for security on military installations and in deployed environments. The Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is currently working on the planning, design and construction of a new kennel facility for the working dogs of the 22nd Security Forces Squadron located at McConnell Air Force Base, or MAFB, in Wichita, Kansas. The current kennels were constructed several decades ago and require much-needed updates.
“[The current kennel facility is] just antiquated,” said Gary Shirley, military programs project manager with the Kansas City District, “it doesn’t meet the current requirements for housing working dogs.”
Like the training of military working dogs, the kennel facilities that house the dogs must meet strict requirements that are mandated by the Department of Defense, or DoD, and the U.S. Air Force. The DoD requires the use of a standard design template but allows for modifications to accommodate each specific facility. For example, the design for the new facility at MAFB will take into account sun and wind exposure, among other things.
“We take into consideration sun angles for the outdoor kennels so the dogs aren’t sitting out there in the late afternoon getting hot, or [ensure the dogs will not] get all northerly wind exposure,” said Shirley. “The design of the kennels themselves is absolutely critical.”
Shirley and his team understood that the design of the new facility needed to accommodate the specific conditions at MAFB, not only for the dogs but also for their handlers. The team ensured that the handlers of the 22nd Security Forces Squadron were part of the design process so that the new facility meets the needs of the unit.
Tech. Sgt. Noah Hyatt, kennel master for the 22nd Security Forces Squadron, joined the team in November 2022, and his first thought when he was asked to provide feedback on the new kennel design was to improve quality of life for the dogs.
“When I first took on this project and saw the kennel … the first thing I thought of was how to make the dogs more effective because without the dogs, there’s no handlers,” said Hyatt. “So first we take care of the dogs, giving them the space they need, giving them the ability to rest… Operationally, it will make things much easier.”
Overall, the current facility is insufficient for the handlers and the dogs who work there. According to Shirley, the current facility doesn’t meet nearly a third of the current DoD requirements. The Kansas City District is working to ensure that problem is not repeated with the new facility.
“The military working dogs have a very strict regimen that the trainers and the dogs have to follow,” said Shirley. “[The design staff] go through a great deal of care to make sure that these facilities are designed to generate the least amount of stress on the dogs.”
MAFB’s mission is primarily air refueling, a vital part of the Air Force’s capability. The 22nd Security Forces Squadron dog handlers support that mission in many different ways.
“We support [MAFB’s mission] through securing the installation and law enforcement and conducting security patrols,” Hyatt said. “Whenever we get different types of resources coming in on the ground, we use our explosives dogs to sweep the area that crews go into. We also deploy our dogs.”
With projects like this, USACE is able to remove barriers that inhibit servicemembers from performing a necessary job to ensure national security. The handlers take a lot of pride in their work, not only in the security they provide to the installation, but in training the dogs to be the best they can be.
“I think it’s the satisfaction that comes out of training the dogs,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Espinoza Stewart, military working dog trainer. “Training dog teams and [certifying] them … I know, hey, I was able to train that team and put them out there, and now they’re in the fight.”
These working dogs are highly trained and highly skilled. The handlers of the 22nd Security Forces Squadron understand better than most, the duty and sacrifice that is asked of military working dogs. The respect that exists between the working dogs and their handlers is evident.
“You know, we talk about mental health of people in the military all the time, but it’s huge in the dogs as well and you can tell,” said Hyatt. “When dogs are in a better kennel environment, they don’t have these issues.”
By working with the handlers directly during the design phase, Shirley and his team were able to understand the importance of this project.
“This is about the animals,” said Shirley. “They needed this pretty badly.”
The new kennel facility, which is currently in the design phase, will be built from the ground up and cost about $5.3 million. The project has an anticipated completion date in 2026.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District will host a Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC) Pre-Proposal Conference for potential Architect and Engineering (A-E) service-related government contractors Tuesday, June 13, 2023, 1-4 p.m. CST, at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jadwin Building, 2000 Fort Point Rd, Galveston, TX 77550.
This event is open to all large and small businesses interested in working with the Galveston District. The conference will include presentations from USACE staff and an open session for participants to ask District staff questions.
The purpose of the event is to present upcoming work opportunities for the Galveston District and hold exchanges with industry before receipt of proposals, to improve the understanding of government requirements and industry capabilities for the Galveston District Civil Works Programs. Potential offerors can judge whether they can satisfy the government’s requirements for the District’s Civil Works Program. This increases the government’s ability to obtain quality supplies and services--including construction at reasonable prices--and increases efficiency in proposal preparation, evaluation, negotiation, and contract award.
Attendees must participate in person as no live virtual option will be available.
Registration is required no later than 4 p.m. CST, June 9, 2023. Each firm will be limited to three attendees. For security reasons, visitors must be U.S. citizens and present a state or federal issued identification for access to USACE facilities.
To register for the event, please visit this URL: bit.ly/900M-MATOC. Please enter only one attendee name per registration form.
As stated in FAR 15.201(f), any general information disclosed in these meetings will be made available to the public as soon as practicable, but no later than the next general release of information, to avoid creating an unfair competitive advantage. Any materials distributed by the Government at these meetings shall be made available to all potential offerors, upon request to the contract specialist identified.
For more news and information, visit https://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/.
2000 Fort Point Road, Galveston, TX 77550
Five companies will compete for each order of a $49,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for architect and engineering services issued by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Alabama.
Bids were solicited via the internet with 12 received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of April 7, 2028. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Alabama, is the contracting activity.