Into the next century at 'the Yard' Anne Arundel County: Century-old to decade-old, Academy sites need modernization.

April 01, 1996

ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS are busy at the U.S. Naval Academy, examing old buildings and calculating cost estimates. When they are finished, the academy hopes to launch one of the biggest renovation drives in its history.

A total of 13 buildings, some of them dating to the turn of the century, are to be modernized. Twenty-three small storage buildings, including World War II-era Quonset huts, are to be razed. "We are just into initial planning stages right now," says academy spokesman Capt. Tom Jurkowski.

Just how much this overhaul is going to cost is not known yet. But the renovation price-tag of Bancroft Hall, the academy's imposing 33-acre dormitory which has 1,873 midshipmen rooms, may give a hint.

Its eight wings are being modernized in stages. The total cost is estimated to be $190 million. This does not include air-conditioning the complex, which is planned to be done about the year 2000.

Yet air-conditioning, a comfort factor, is only LEG 2 BEGINS HERE a symbol of the many changes required.

It is quite understandable that the academy's administrative building, Sampson Hall and Mahan Hall -- all built in 1907 -- would be in need of renovation. Or that such buildings as Luce Hall (1920), Preble and Lahey halls (1939) are in need of modernization. But how come the 1968 Chauvenet and Michelson halls, which house the division of mathematics and science, and the 1985 Hendrix Oceanography Laboratory are on the rehabilitation list?

The answer is quite simple. Even though they were built relatively recently, no one could have anticipated the wide use of computers and other sophisticated electronic equipment or their tremendous power needs. If anything, wiring needs will increase in the future.

"We want to be ready and compatible with the new technology well into the 21st century," Captain Jurkowski explained.

The Naval Academy's big modernization drive reflects the failure of past administrations to do timely maintenance and updating of facilities. Yet old buildings are no different from cars. You either perform preventive maintenance or plunk down a bundle when things fall apart. In the end, repairs cannot be delayed indefinitely.

Pub Date: 4/01/96

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