- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Construction began this week on a weather prediction center that will anchor the University of Maryland’s M-Square Research and Technology Park.

The 268,762-square-foot office and research complex will be the new home of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Satellite and Information Service, Air Resources Laboratory and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

“This gives them a new facility that will accommodate the new technology,” said Bob Federico, project manager for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which is overseeing work on the new NOAA building.

It replaces a 126,000-square-foot building at Camp Springs, where Mr. Federico said, “The people are on top of each other.”

The new building also is the GSA’s latest effort to make its buildings environmentally friendly.

Part of the roof will be covered with soil and grass, partly for insulation and partly to absorb moisture. Natural lighting from expanses of windows is supposed to cut down on electricity usage.

It is designed by developer Opus East of Rockville to meet U.S. Green Building Council standards for silver certification.

Construction is scheduled for completion in late 2007 with occupancy by 800 employees in February 2008. Opus East will own the building but lease it to NOAA. The University of Maryland granted a ground lease for the project.

As much as the building benefits NOAA, it also helps the University of Maryland advance its M-Square program.

The university has set aside 124 acres of its property along the border of College Park and Riverdale for scientific government agencies and private groups willing to collaborate with the university’s faculty and students.

The Food and Drug Administration as well as the American Center for Physics already are located nearby.

The new NOAA building, only two miles from the main campus in College Park, is supposed to give meteorology students an opportunity to gain experience, faculty a chance to advance their research and NOAA access to the technical personnel it needs.

NOAA’s decision to locate in M-Square influenced real estate developer Corporate Office Properties Trust to build a 120,000-square-foot building a short walk away.

The Columbia company is getting permits for the building now and plans to begin construction in the spring.

“Because of NOAA, we’ve identified strong tenants,” said Dwight S. Taylor, president of the development and construction branch of Corporate Office Properties Trust.

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

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