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MacDill can add beauty to list of many accomplishments

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

A panoramic view of Davis Park shows the extensive use of native vegetation and winding walkways, anchored by the centerpiece pavilion. The 6th Civil Engineer Squadron received top honors for the park.

photo courtesy of 6th Civil Engineer Squadron

Things are looking good at MacDill, at least that's what the Air Force decided recently when it awarded two prestigious design honors to the base on the Bay.

The Air Force Design Awards were announced last week and MacDill made the Honor list with the landscaping job at Davis Conference Center Park. The Honor award is the highest presented in the competition, which takes place annually. But there was more.

MacDill also received a Merritt award for new housing in what is known on base as Heritage Cove. Together, the awards are a big feather in MacDill's cap, said Scott Davis, engineering chief overseeing construction on base. He said the official awards ceremony will be July 28 in Washington.

"It's an honor and good to be recognized for our efforts," said Mr. Davis.

Hopes always are high when award packages are submitted but getting two competing Air Force-wide was a surprise, he said.

Photos and text describing the project were submitted for the awards. One description summed up the theme of keeping the park natural and consistent with the environment before development:

"The design blends natural and recycled materials as a means of creating a self sustaining and environmentally balanced environment. Native plants that likely existed on the project site before its development were replanted as a means of reestablishing a natural coastal shoreline. Lime rock boulders replaced the old seawall as a natural shoreline breaků ," the award draft said in part.

"I think they (the judges) liked the natural usage of Florida vegetation and landscaping at the park," said Mr. Davis, referring to the use of palms, sea oats and other native vegetation in the $3.3 million project.

The Merit recognition for housing in Phase III and IV to replace old, substandard housing, was based on several criteria including use of green space and playgrounds in neighborhoods, dramatic staircases and covered balconies, screened porches and the extensive use of Washingtonia and Sable palms in landscaping and to line roadways. The $16.3 million phase of the housing makeover on base was designed by Baker and Associates of Alexandria, Va.

"We have to recognize the contractor when it comes to credit (for the housing award)," said Mr. Davis. "They did a great job."

In addition to the designer, Air Force leadership, the 6th Contracting Squadron and 6th Civil Engineer Squadron share credit in the award for funding, facilitating and reviewing the project.

Mr. Davis said he believes the project was a standout with the judges because of the aesthetic and practical implementation of stilts. Flood requirements meant the new housing had to be raised about 4.5 feet but since restrictions in the neighborhood did not allow garages to park cars, the Baker and Associates added another five feet or so to the elevation to allow parking cars underneath the homes.

"That made them unique in the command and probably made them stand out," said Mr. Davis. "It made them attractive and functional."





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