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June 6, 2018

Maine National Guard gets new 101,000-square-foot home

Photo / Maureen Milliken Camp Chamberlain, on Blue Star Memorial Avenue, off Civic Center Drive in Augusta, was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting Sunday. It's the joint command for the Maine National Guard.

Maine’s Army and Air National Guard units have a new headquarters with the completion of 101,000-square-foot Camp Chamberlain in north Augusta.

The $34 million project on 43 acres off Civic Center Drive, on land next to the state veterans cemetery, took more than two years to finish.

"Camp Chamberlain was designed to provide the Maine National Guard with a 100-year facility," said Col. Normand Michaud, director of facilities and engineering for the Maine Army National Guard. "This facility will provide us with the space that is required by regulation that is state of the art, energy efficient and modern."

The new campus was necessary because of the advanced age of 136-year-old Camp Keyes and requirements to enhance energy efficiency.

The camp also allowed the Army and Air Force to be a more "joint force,” and it provides adequate professional office space and training space, said Lt. Col. Darryl Lyon, spokesman for the Guard.

The building, which houses office, classroom and collaboration space, a gymnasium, auditorium, kitchen and dining room among other functions, is built to exceed an LEED Silver target. It includes an 18kw photovoltaic array on the roof, external monitoring of heating controls, automatic sensors for lighting fixtures and LEDs throughout.

The joint forces headquarters is home to approximately 190 full time soldiers and airmen, a number that increases to 220 during a drill weekend. The headquarters also oversees 3,100 Army and Air Guard members across the state.

Secure, functional, energy-efficient, cost-saving

Photo / Maureen Milliken
A new intersection and traffic lights at Civic Center Avenue and Darin Drive were part of the Camp Chamberlain project.

Nickerson & O’Day Inc. of Brewer was the builder and WBRC Architects-Engineers of Bangor and Portland designed Camp Chamberlain. O'Brien Atkins of Durham, N.C., was consulting partner.

WBRC’s Rob Frank, principal-in-charge, said the goal was to design a highly visible secure facility that was fully functional and integrated.

“It was important that it be architecturally pleasing, fiscally responsible, a showcase for energy efficiency and sustainability — in a structure that would last 100 years,” Frank said.

“It is not every day that you are able to work with professionals who understand the design and construction process as well as the folks at the Maine National Guard,” he added.

Mat Ward, the project architect, said that because a lot of the footprint was needed for training and assembly space, “we had to be very efficient and flexible in the design.”

“We saved costs by having a central core of shared resources like conference rooms, classrooms, and break rooms,” Ward said. “Stacked infrastructure such as restrooms, electrical rooms and telecom rooms was another cost-saver.”

Ward said the project team was also sensitive to the fact that they had to provide “the best possible value to taxpayers.”

“Every decision we made was vetted by initial cost versus long-term maintenance costs,” he said. “That included evaluating eight different heating and cooling systems.”

“Energy savings was very important to the guard leadership,” he said.

The building exceeds energy standard minimums by 40% or more in some categories.

“In a 101,000 square foot building, choices like LED lights on occupancy sensors and rooftop solar PVs are going to make a huge difference over time."

The project also involved creating a new road, making the Civic Center Drive and Darin Drive intersection four-way, adding a traffic light and moving the entrance to the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, which now shares a new road — Blue Star Memorial Avenue — with Camp Chamberlain.

The former entrance to the cemetery is now a walking path, which winds between the old stone gate.

'More than just a building'

Photo / Maureen Milliken
The former entrance to the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Civic Center Drive in Augusta.

The Air National Guard will maintain Camp Keyes, which was established in 1882 at its current site adjacent to what is now the Augusta State Airport .

Camp Keyes will still house Department of the Military, Veterans and Emergency Management offices, the veterans services area will expand and the barbershop and exchange will remain open, Lyons said.

The Army Guard will still use the armory down the hill from Camp Keyes on Western Avenue for training functions, he said.

The Maine National Guard began in 1642, almost 200 years before Maine was a state, and the new building displays artifacts from that long history.

Camp Chamberlain was unveiled Sunday with a ribbon-cutting and public tours.

Maj. Gen. Douglas A. Farnham, the adjutant general for the Maine National Guard, said, "This facility is more than just a building, it represents our commitment to the citizens of Maine and provides our soldiers and airmen with a headquarters that they can be proud of."

He called it a “phenomenal space” and said the fact it was named for Maine Civil War hero Maj. Gen. Joshua Chamberlain “is appropriate.”

"I am proud that Maine can provide our National Guard with a facility worthy of their dedication to serving our country," said Gov. Paul LePage, who was a guest at the event.

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