Stronghold Engineering, Inc.’s Work on the Vandenberg Space Force Base


Stronghold Engineering, Inc. is a construction company based in Riverside, California. The company has made a name for itself as a reliable and top-notch construction services provider. It has been in the business for 30 years now and the company continues to grow. They are responsive and provide a range of services to their clients. Stronghold has also worked on multiple historical renovations and are one of the top choices of the US Government and the Military. Being consistently handed out projects by such authorities speaks volumes about the dedication and commitment of Stronghold Engineering. In this article, we will be going over two projects that the company worked on at the Vandenberg Space Force Base. 

Vandenberg Space Force Base

The Vandenberg Space Force Base was previously known as the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The base is located some 10 miles away from Lompoc, California. This air force base was built in 1941, when the US Army acquired thousands of acres of ranch land from Lompoc to Santa Maria, along the Central Coast of California. The Vandenberg Space Force Base started as Camp Cooke, an army training camp, in October of 1941.

Then, in 1957, the Army transferred land north of Camp Cooke to the United States Air Force, so that it could be utilised as a missile training site. It became known as Cooke Air Force Base, and the first airmen arrived in February 1957. The base was renamed in 1958 as the Vandenberg Air Force Base, in honour of the Air Force’s second Chief of Staff, General Hoyt Vandenberg.

In addition to being a missile testing facility, the base has also been used by NASA. Discoverer 1, which was the world’s first polar orbit satellite launched in 1959 from Vandenberg. The Discoverer satellite program had been touted as part of scientific research; however, it was the country’s first photo reconnaissance satellite program. The facility has also been briefly used by Elon Musk’s SpaceX program. The Boeing X-37B, an unmanned spacecraft, has also made multiple unmanned autonomous landings on the base. 

The base’s long history with space-related activities has led it to be chosen as a base for US Space Force, a new wing within the US Armed Forces. In May 2021, it was renamed as the Vandenberg Space Force Base. 

Titan Dormitory Renovation

Stronghold Engineering’s services were sought for a design-build project worth $4.3 million. The project involved renovating the existing Titan Dormitory entirely. The dormitory is a three-story dorm. The project included repairing and upgrading the entire dormitory to bring it to par with modern specifications. 

Through the course of the project, all of the 68 rooms in the Titan Dormitory went through a process of renovation. All of these rooms were fitted with kitchenettes, full baths, room fridges, microwaves, two-burner cooktops, phone jacks, TV jacks and other electrical receptacles. The dorm’s communal areas were also renovated. These areas included the three lounges, housekeeping closets, the laundry area, mailroom, administrative offices, linen closets, and a storage room. 

To make way for the new, some of the older features had to be demolished. Grading was done where excavation was required. Natural gas and hydronic distribution systems were installed. Pipes and ducts were insulated. A new fire alarm system, complete with fire-resistant joint systems was also installed. The scope of work also entailed carpentry and furnishings. Stronghold’s electricians were responsible for installing a host of electrical equipment. This included fan coil units, diffusers, power ventilators, rooftop air handling units, circuit breakers and panel boards. 

The building has been designed with energy efficiency in mind. The new HVAC system that was installed has an Energy Star rating. The exterior walls benefit from R-11 proofing, windows have Low E insulation, whereas plumbing has been done with water-saving as a priority. 

The dormitory is also LEED-certified. To achieve this certification several steps were taken. The building shell has been reused. The entire dorm is now carpeted with carpets made from recycled materials. Each room now comes with an electrical sub-panel and electrical configurations that are completely flexible. The site has been greatly improved to reduce stormwater runoff by fixing impervious areas. To decrease the amount of light pollution, the team installed shielding lenses on lighting poles and deployed the use of horizontal lighting. The landscaping has been done in a way that minimises water usage. Moreover, to manage the water systems of the building efficiently, five discrete water systems have been installed. This has also made maintenance relatively easy, with minimal disruption to residents. 

The Resident Engineer at Vandenberg, Harland G. Kroll, upon successful completion of the project, praised the work of Stronghold in the following words, “There have been many challenges along the way, not the least was trying to design and construct a complete renovation of an existing dormitory in a year. Without Stronghold’s cooperation, spirit of teamwork, and overall excellent management of the project, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Renovation of Temporary Living Facilities

Stronghold Engineering was also the prime contractor for the complete reconfiguration of a 50-year-old facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This project had a cost of $1.3 million and covered an area of 18,200 square feet. This project was the first building at the base that received a LEED Bronze rating.

During the project, the team created 13 three-bedroom houses. Each house was equipped with two-bath units, a dining/living area, and a kitchen. These houses have been built for military personnel for use up to 30 days. 

The scope of work included extensive excavation, trenching, grading, preparation and site improvement. Housing units were tested for tightness. The team also worked on the landscaping in front of and behind the houses. This was a significant project that required all the services on offer by Stronghold Engineering. There were teams of carpenters making cabinets and large teams of masons building housing units, right, left and centre. Houses were equipped with thermal insulation, reinforced with concrete, resilient flooring, garbage disposal units, refrigerators, full kitchen ranges, plumbing fixtures, piping systems, and lighting. Parks and common areas were demolished and replaced. New communication lines were installed, electrical systems were repaired. The facility also got a new common barbeque area and a courtyard for recreational purposes. 

To make sure that the building received LEED certification, the team carefully planned each step of the project and made sure that they adhered to green building standards and goals. LEED certification features included, recycling and waste management systems, CAT5 cable, and recycled tiling. Stronghold made sure that the building materials that were procured had significant recycled content, had been made by regional manufacturers, and were made with energy-saving measures. All of this was done to ensure the promotion of sustainable design goals. 

The project was completed in a year. Despite the project being completed on an accelerated schedule, there were no compromises on building quality or construction excellence. This is reflected by the fact that the project received an Outstanding Performance Evaluation.