Work begins on $38 million project for Edgewood Area chemistry lab

Proving-ground facility to replace three buildings

January 26, 2003|By Jennifer Blenner | Jennifer Blenner,SUN STAFF

Two Baltimore-based companies have started work on a $38 million contract to build an advanced chemistry laboratory in Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, said Jeff Hinte, acting director for advanced planning and initiatives of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

The center has been the focus of research and development involving the chemical warfare agents in the defense against chemical weapons at the proving ground since World War I.

Gaudreau Inc., an architectural firm, and Poole & Kent, a mechanical contractor, are to complete construction in two years.

The two companies competed with other firms for the work. "They were up against some really good competition," Hinte said.

The planning for the building has been in the works for a year and a half.

"We had to justify the need, create a program and design a concept," the official said.

"The $38 million provided sufficient capability to move out of antiquated buildings," Hinte said. "It allows us to support our mission to protect the work force and protect the homeland."

The 74,000-square-foot laboratory is to replace three labs in the Edgewood Area.

"It is the cornerstone of the chemical defense research and development," Hinte said. "This building does the basic research and applied research in areas of chemical detection, protection and decontamination."

The older laboratories were designed in the late 1950s when people worked more by hand, while the new laboratories allow for sophisticated instrumentation and the capabilities in the molecular level.

"The new lab is flexible and based on a modular design to easily reconfigure the lab for new equipment and technology," Hinte said.

Advantages to the new laboratory will include enabling the relocation of all team members into one building and creating a more energy-efficient building to reduce utility costs, he said.

"The new building may save an estimated $200,000 a year in utility costs," the acting director said.

The Edgewood center is the Army's principal research and developmental center for chemical and biological defense technology, engineering and services.

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