Facility Renovation and Asbestos Abatement of Memorial Chapel

Lackland Air Force Base, Texas

photo of Memorial ChapelMemorial Chapel at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, was constructed in 1942 and has been designated historically significant due to its use during troop training in the World War II era. The chapel has been in use almost continuously since its construction and was in need of exterior preservation and interior modernization. Because of the time period in which it was constructed, no provisions were made for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access and many of the building materials contained asbestos and lead-based paint.

Weston Solutions, Inc. (WESTON®) was contracted to restore the historically significant, wood-frame chapel to its original exterior appearance. A secondary goal was to modernize the 3,400-square-foot facility with a total restoration of the interior and exterior, while significantly improving energy efficiency.

WESTON Organizes Stakeholders and Renovation Team
WESTON partnered with all stakeholders during planning and project execution to define objectives, explore options, reach joint decisions, and coordinate construction. The Texas State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) was involved in the preliminary planning stages, giving clear direction to preserve specific architectural characteristics of the chapel’s original exterior appearance.

WESTON organized a facility renovation team consisting of a local architectural and engineering (A/E) firm, a general contractor, the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence, the Air Force’s 37th Civil Engineering Squadron, and the 37th Training Wing/Head Chaplain staff. Using a design-build project approach, WESTON organized stakeholder planning meetings and held separate meetings with the A/E design firm and the general contractor to promote open communication and proactive problem solving.

Phased Approach Provides Efficient Scope
Although the client’s conceptual objectives were clear, the condition of many of the building components and the subsequent renovations could not be accurately determined until some demolition work was completed. WESTON devised a phased approach as the most cost-effective means to define the full scope and proceed efficiently:

  • Phase 1: Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint Abatement
    The initial task consisted of the abatement of asbestos-containing building materials and materials painted with lead-based paint. This abatement involved the demolition and removal of interior walls, interior window trim, floor tiles and floor tile mastic, HVAC ductwork, exterior siding, and exterior trim.

  • Phase 2: Facility Evaluations
    The second phase involved engineering evaluations of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; and structural framing members. Enough materials were removed during Phase 1 to allow adequate access for inspection, which found that the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems required replacement. Portions of the structural framing needed to be replaced due to decay, but overall there was less structural damage than expected.

  • Phase 3: Renovation Preparation, Approval, and Construction
    With the project scope defined, the third phase involved preparation, review, and approval of the renovation design drawings and specifications. The final task involved construction of the renovations.

Multifaceted Construction Brings Building Up to Code
The Memorial Chapel renovation spanned multiple work areas, including utilities, demolition, landscaping, pavement, building exterior renovation, HVAC, plumbing, fire protection upgrades, mechanical systems, electrical and controls, asbestos and lead-based paint abatement, and building interior renovation.

The WESTON Renovation Team:

  • Performed asbestos and lead-based paint abatement

  • Evaluated building system integrity and designed and installed upgrades to HVAC, electrical, mechanical, and structural systems to meet current building codes

  • Replaced interior walls and insulation

  • Repaired, or removed and replaced, interior finishes including carpet, doors, and ceilings

  • Replaced joists and other primary structural members where necessary

  • Installed a new addressable fire alarm system and fire suppression system

  • Removed and replaced existing windows and exterior finishes

  • Installed a wheelchair-accessible front entrance and ADA-compliant restroom

  • Removed and replaced meeting wing with a larger, modernized structure

  • Renovated landscaping and sidewalks

  • Ensured compliance with Department of Defense antiterrorism and force protection design standards

WESTON Overcomes Management Challenges
Construction photoAlthough building code and the preliminary design did not warrant a fire alarm or fire suppression system, the Lackland AFB Fire Chief later insisted that both systems be added. Adding these systems caused a ripple effect of changes throughout the existing design packages. For example, adding the fire suppression system would require installing a buried water pipe with cathodic corrosion protection. WESTON, as construction manager, led discussions with the design/construction team and the project stakeholders to scope, price, evaluate, and approve these design changes.

Design-Build Approach Saves Time and Costs
This design-build project demonstrated WESTON’s ability to manage a facilities and infrastructure project from concept through completed construction. Drawing on our extensive design engineering, construction, and construction management experience, WESTON guided a team that included a local A/E design firm, a local general contractor, and an asbestos abatement contractor to preserve and modernize this World War II-era chapel.

WESTON’s design-build approach reduced the traditional 2- to 3-year project lifecycle to less than 1 year. Facilitating early issues resolution with the design/construction team allowed general contractor recommendations to be incorporated in the design. This partnering approach prevented construction conflicts and the resulting delays and costs.