Bringing 200 Years of Marine Corps History to Life
The U.S. Marine Corps was founded in 1775 and has a rich history of defending our nation at home and protecting its interests abroad. In 2004, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation commissioned Balfour Beatty to build a brand new museum that would honor the branch of the United States Armed Forces.
A tribute to the Marine Corps, this landmark project was designed with an artful combination of materials and symbolic geometry that embodies the Marine Corps values: honor, courage, and valor. Inspired by the iconic image of Marines erecting the American flag in Iwo Jima during World War II, the building features a 240-foot, tilted, stainless-steel-clad steel pipe truss mast soaring through a 160-foot glass skylight.
"I am writing to express my appreciation for the professionalism and teamwork demonstrated by the Balfour Beatty project team on the construction of the National Museum of the Marine Corps,” said Gerald L. McKay, Brigadier General USMC (Ret), COO – Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. “The completed facility is a testament to your project team's unwavering commitment to get the job done right. It is a world-class museum of which we can all be proud."
The two-story, 120,000-square-foot facility features museum gallery space, an orientation theater, gift shop, cafeteria, kitchen, tavern, and an expansive entry lobby/atrium. The three-sided, 160-foot glass and steel atrium houses planes, helicopters, tanks, and other large exhibits of the air as well as ground and sea capabilities of the Marine Corps. Exhibit space includes 42-foot-tall travertine interior gallery walls with engravings featured throughout.
The museum is constructed of glass, structural steel, and composite concrete decks. Site work featured asphalt parking lots / roads, landscaping, and creation of Semper Fidelis Memorial Park—an area of reflection overlooking the magnificent museum. The park included concrete seating walls, granite paving, natural and colored concrete walks, corten steel, statue foundations and bases in architectural concrete and granite, and site lighting. Trailing, brick-lined pathways were engraved with donor inscriptions.
Phase 2 Expansion
Balfour Beatty’s Mid-Atlantic Division also provided preconstruction and construction services for the Phase 2 Expansion. The approximately 124,950-square-foot expansion to the existing museum includes new exhibit galleries, a large screen theater and a student education center, as well as an expansion of the second-level administrative space.
As the project expansion took place in a fully-operational museum, careful consideration went into avoiding any impacts to the existing exhibit galleries and administrative areas. Where required to separate construction activities from museum operations, fire-rated temporary partitions were constructed.
After excavating 89,000 cubic yards of fill from behind the existing central gallery foundation wall and carefully demolishing existing large supply air duct/enclosure run on the exterior of the foundation wall, the team cut 19 35-foot-tall by eight-foot-wide openings in an existing 24-inch-thick concrete wall while minimizing dust, noise and impacts to the museum.
The project also required the Balfour Beatty team to interface closely with the artifact contractor to ensure the seamless installation of an F-18 and an M60 Patton tank during the construction phase.
Early Collaboration as a Relentless Ally
Early planning included collaboration with major subcontractors as various components of the schedule were developed. The complex mast and skylight construction in the museum's Central Gallery required the highest degree of planning and coordination to produce the quality product the Museum now enjoys. Close coordination with the architect enabled us to see potential issues before they occurred and resolve them quickly. This approach was also essential in ensuring close coordination between the construction of the museum and the construction of the gallery exhibits.
Due to the unique design of the project, BIM played a vital role in the construction of the project. 3D and 4D models assisted with planning and coordination, including pictorial communication of the schedule and early detection of design conflicts, constructability and sequencing issues.
- Project has won 15 awards since completion.
- The project incorporates many sustainability features such as a green roof system, bioretention facilities and the use of highly recycled materials.
- The project was constructed to DoD Anti-Terrorism / Force Protection criteria, including ballistic-resistant mechanical and electrical systems, stand-off and site access strategies, as well as a full complement of electronic security components.
- Hoisting and placing the mast required a two-crane “critical” lift. To eliminate potential safety hazards or structural failures, Balfour Beatty, together with the steel erector performed extensive planning, including construction of a scale model, use of 4D modeling.