- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Walter Reed Army Medical Center last week granted a $10 million contract to build a rehabilitation center for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who lost limbs in the conflict.

The contract for a new building was unusual because the hospital complex is scheduled to close in 2011.

But Walter Reed officials say the growing number of amputees they are treating leaves them no time to wait.

“By building the center, we meet the immediate care requirements of our wounded warriors that Walter Reed continues to receive weekly,” said Joan Malloy, Walter Reed spokeswoman.

Turner Construction Company’s Washington area office won the contract to build the new Military Amputee Training Center. Turner is scheduled to begin construction this month and finish by October 2007.

Walter Reed has treated 345 of the U.S. Army’s 448 amputees since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, beginning in early 2002.

About 125 of them required extensive care, such as the kind of rehabilitation the Military Amputee Training Center is designed to provide.

The center, located at 6900 Georgia Ave. NW, would be a two-story, 31,000 square-foot facility with gyms, gait labs, a climbing and rappeling wall, virtual-reality center, counseling center and administrative offices. A military vehicle simulator is supposed to give soldiers the training they need to return to the battlefield.

“The project site slopes dramatically from North Road to the existing hospital, so there is a tremendous amount of cut and fill required,” said Chris E. Jahrling, general manager of Turner’s Washington office.

Before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the final design, Turner representatives toured Walter Reed hospital to meet with amputees being treated there.

“This is perhaps the most rewarding project Turner has embarked on in its 104 year history,” Mr. Jahrling said.

The Washington office of architectural firm Ellerbe Becket is doing the design work for Turner.

The winning design represented a second effort to get approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, which rejected the first proposal as too expensive.

Ellerbe Becket revamped its proposal by reducing the design from three stories to two stories, converting the building from an L-shape to a rectangle and eliminating deep excavations. The final design would create a long, low building as it is viewed from nearby North Avenue.

“The essential theme of the design is to create the feeling of a contemporary athletic training facility rather than the feeling of being in a hospital,” said Tom Anglim, an Ellerbe Becket principal. “We considered it important to include ample natural light in primary training areas as a positive influence on healing.”

In other news …

• A joint venture led by Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund, a real estate investment fund, this week said it would develop a 266-unit condominium project at First and L streets Southeast, only a few blocks from the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium under construction.

The units will average 725 square feet and sell from the high $200,000s to high $300,000s. The condominium portion of the project is estimated to cost between $90 million and $100 million. Opus East is building a 12-story office building as part of the same master planned community.

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail [email protected]

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