Stunning New Headquarters Built for Deschutes National Forest

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ForestService_021After 103 long years of waiting, our Forest Service finally has a permanent home.

Representing a monumental achievement and collaborative effort, the U.S. Forest Service christened their grand new headquarters, the Bend Pine Administration Building, Thursday afternoon with a gala ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house.  A sizeable crowd including Smokey The Bear gathered for the festivities, joined by members of the Forest Service, government officials and local citizens.  The $8.5 million, 45,000 square-foot lodge-style administration center was the result of a seamless union between Bend’s Steele Associates Architects, Kirby Nagelhout Construction and a diligent group of Forest Service employees with a dream of quiet grandeur for their permanent home.

Eco-friendly, sustainability highlights such as low-water native landscaping, daylight harvesting, biomass boiler, recycled materials and  energy efficient systems were combined with enhanced commissioning to make sure they all work as intended.

This completes Phase One of the 25-acre campus’ continuing expansion plans.  Once the transfer and move-in is complete, the 80 X 287-foot building will easily quarter 200 full-time employees of the Forest Service on the main floor and members of the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Bend Field Office upstairs.

Starting out the occasion, the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Color Guard performed the flag-raising ceremony before the singing of the National Anthem by Katie Bullock.  Forest Service Supervisor John Allen spoke to the assembled crowd with high hopes for the future and many congratulatory declarations all around.

‘We’re here today to celebrate the opening of a new facility and recognize the key partners involved with making it happen,” he said.  “The U.S. Forest Service has been here for over 100 years, managing the public’s land for multiple uses and benefits.  Hopefully the completion of this new headquarters signifies the start of another 100 years. I wanted to quote Louis Lamour who once said, ‘There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.  That will be the new beginning.’

“This building is progress. It was built through inter-governmental collaboration, will save nearly one million dollars a year in lease saving costs and will permanently house our employees for a long time into the future.  It looks like a traditional forest service lodge with native stone and wood accents outside and inside at its heart is a modern, sustainable structure.”

Nora Rasure, Deputy Regional Forester, stepped to the lectern and thanked everyone for coming. “I’m really glad to be here today.  It’s not often you get to come and celebrate a fresh beginning,” she said.  “It’s going to be a wonderful place for our employees to work and that’s something to be very proud of.  Many people here today have had a hand in making this beautiful structure.  I look forward to seeing people settle in and make good use of the space and find new and creative ways to work.”

Steele Associate’s design squad included Scott Steele, Steve Hockman, Seth Anderson, Misti Nelmes and Summer Oman.

“We’d like to thank the Forest Service for granting us the opportunity to work with them as a team member to design this wonderful project, and we laud them for their sustainable vision, stewardship and leadership,” said Steele.  “Our firm really enjoyed the process, as the Forest Service staff was both fun and professional to work with.”

Following the ribbon-cutting, guests were invited inside to tour the building and share refreshments with persons who played an instrumental role in the project’s triumphant rise. While inside, Forest Service employees offered instructional material, displays and demonstrations of the many ongoing ecological issues and environmental programs offered by the Forest Service.

Praising the local contractor’s tangible efforts in coming together, Deschutes County Commissioner Alan Unger continued his expression of the day’s excitement by commending the spirit of people coming together to promote a healthy forest.

Eric King with the City of Bend , who assisted with the task of getting the project annexed into the city limits, discussed  the complex network of processes that took place at the high end of the spectrum and the profusion of encouraging, collaborative work done.

“In Deschutes County we work together and we play together,” he said.  “The Forest Service is very integral to the City of Bend and its identity.  It’s part of who we are as a city.”

Dave Watson of Kirby Nagelhout was the project manager assigned to the task of creating the impressive administration site.

“I’ve been with the firm now for over four years and this is one of the largest jobs I’ve been involved with,” he explained.  “It was 75 percent funded by government stimulus funds granted by the 2009 ARRA Recovery Act and the remaining portion coming from other various governmental sources.  We began construction July of last year and finished this July in just under a year.”

The project called for the structure to be built following the strict standards and requirements set forth for the LEED Gold Certification for green, sustainable buildings, granting it maximum efficiency in its utilization of power and energy with minimal impact to the environment. It has been registered and will undergo the official certification process later this year. High quality craftsmanship and an incredible attention to detail can be seen from the elegant front lobby to spacious conference room and individual offices.

“There were over 50 sub-contractors and suppliers used in the operation,” said Watson.  “Of all those businesses and workers, 92 percent of the volume of work was accomplished by area firms and businesses. All total, 37 full-time jobs were created throughout its one year time span. Design elements incorporated the basalt stone and wood timbers give the exterior a nostalgic, old-fashioned appearance. It’s a steel structure which allowed us to raise the percentage of recyclable materials used in its construction to 20 percent.”

Another of the sustainable features infused into the overall design is the use of native plants and trees for the exterior landscaping, requiring no additional irrigation and water usage. Watson commended all the agencies involved for their cooperation in getting this project developed and completed with minimal hassle and stress.

“Both the City of Bend and Deschutes County were involved from a planning and oversight perspective from the very beginning to help push though the inspection and permitting issues. Parks and Recreation is the neighboring entity and we also had to coordinate with them on the water sourcing, fencing and site improvements on the shared property boundaries.”

The bordering irrigation canal is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation and Watson’s team coordinated with and brushed up against a number of civic entities in the process, from Federal and city government agencies to state and county administrations, culminating in a comprehensive amount of interdepartmental cooperation on a level seldom encountered.

“The Forest Service wanted a Biomass Boiler System installed as part of its continued example of sustainable green design, fed by a wood pellet silo erected out behind the building. These Biomass Boilers represent the latest in eco-friendly heating technology. Pellets used to fire the boiler are created by processing wood debris and material from the forests.”

Jeff Deswert, President of Kirby Nagelhout Construction reiterated Watson’s sentiments, “Hey, I did a pretty good job,” he joked.  “I even got my picture taken with Smokey the Bear.    

“From our standpoint, the timing of a project of this size and nature was a total boost to not only our firm, but the entire construction community here in Central Oregon. It was so great to have this job stay with all those local companies.”

Watson stood admiring the completed building, shaking hands with co-workers and guests. “I think this project was rewarding because of the difficult economic climate and to have this magnitude of a job manifest itself right here in our own backyard was truly satisfying. Having a vast project like this was very fortunate for our company and working closely with Steele Associates Architects, another Bend firm we’ve partnered with before, turned out to be a perfect project in a difficult time.”

John Allen, surprised by his emotional response to the ceremony, reminded us of the importance of this achievement. “This is a great example of how many entities work together,” he said.  “People don’t realize how difficult it is to get something like this done. Here in Central Oregon, we figure out how to get stuff done.”

Upstairs, Public Affairs Officer Jean Nelson-Dean took a final moment to reflect on the day’s special significance. “They’ve built us a wonderful home and I’m glad the public will also have a place to connect with and come to for services they need,” she said.  “We’re so proud of the builder’s exacting standards and hope it will spur more sustainable buildings of this type.  It’s comforting to know we’re not going to be moving again… at least not for another 100 years.”

The new Forest Service administration headquarters is located at 63095 Deschutes Market Road.

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