October 22, 2009
Complete to the cork floors, sound-proof practice rooms and a recording studio that would make most musicians jealous, Fort Carson’s newly arrived band is couched in style.
The 40-member group moved to Fort Carson from Fort Hood, Texas, over the summer and recently moved into its $5.5 million home, built during a four-year, $2.1 billion construction boom at the post as workers hurried to house 6,500 soldiers moved to Colorado under a Pentagon plan.
“It’s a lot better than any other band facility in the Army,” said band director Chief Warrant Officer Marvin Cardo, who is preparing the musicians for a Nov. 12 concert downtown even as they train for deployment to Iraq next year.
The band building was a unique challenge for Colorado Springs’ DLR Group, the architecture firm that designed it.
Tom Kapels, the architect who managed the project, said creating superior acoustics was a prime concern even as designers worked to make the building energy efficient.
The resulting design features thick concrete walls and lofty ceilings that allow the band to sound its best. Individual rooms are designed to encapsulate sound, so small groups can practice simultaneously without battling cacophony.
The band has everything it needs in the building, including humidity-controlled instrument storage, a loading dock for road gigs and even a horn cleaning room. And the building is environmentally friendly, with recycled construction materials used throughout and a geothermal heating system — a first for Fort Carson.
The building is flanked by 40 400-feet-deep wells. Water is circulated deep into the earth, where it is warmed — or in summer, cooled — to 70 degrees by the surrounding rock and soil. The system and other energy-friendly improvements increased the building’s price by as much as $100 per square foot, but will save the Army serious money down the line, Kapels said.
Kapels said the geothermal system will pay for itself in as little as three years through utility savings.
So why would the Army drop so much cash on the arts?
Cardo said while the band creates goodwill in the community when it is home at Fort Carson, it plays a more crucial role on the battlefield, building morale. Cardo’s bandsmen can belt out everything from rock and roll to salsa, and deploys with the division overseas.
“When we deploy, we make those soldiers feel at home,” Cardo said. “That’s where they get the energy to go back out the next day.”
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