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Posted 4/17/2018

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By JoAnne Castagna, Ed.D.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District is renovating Pershing Barracks as part of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point Cadet Barracks Upgrade Program.  The program is to modernize existing barracks to continue to attract high caliber candidates to the academy.   

During ongoing renovations to the Pershing Barracks, two 3-star general officers requested tours of the building and observed extensive upgrades.  

“This kind of interest in a project from senior leaders, demonstrates its importance," said Caitlin Slattery, project manager, New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who led the tours. 

It's not a surprise that distinguished military leaders have an interest in this project because the barracks was named after one of the highest ranking military leaders in the United States - General John J. Pershing.

Pershing is the only American to be promoted to the General of the Armies rank of the United States, created especially for him. 

He received this honor because of his expertise in military tactics and his service to his country that included commanding conflicts at home and abroad. 

Pershing was also a West Point graduate – Class of 1886 - who later become an instructor at the academy.  

It is because of this that the academy named a barracks after him.  

Pershing had a reputation as a strict and rigid instructor and leader.  A Soldier that was once under his command said, “As a Soldier, the ones then and the ones now couldn’t polish his (Pershing) boots.”  

Today, the 122-year-old Pershing Barracks is being modernized to meet the needs of the modern Cadet. 

Slattery said, “The renovation includes a complete gut and remodel of the existing structure and the floor plans will be optimized to utilize space in a more practical way.” 

When completed, the four story barracks will have 135 rooms that will sleep 270 Cadets who will have access to two laundry rooms. 

To assist the Cadets with their academics, each Cadet company will have Collaboration Rooms that will allow them to meet in large numbers to work on group projects or participate in team building activities. 

Cadets will also have such amenities as water bottle filling stations in the hallways and work stations equipped with cable connectors and power supply between computers and devices - Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports.  

In addition, the building will be outfitted with completely new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.   

The barracks will also get something that it didn’t have before – air conditioning. 

Many of these new and upgraded features will be energy-efficient making the barracks Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certifiable.  

The inside of the structure is being modernized, but the exterior’s military gothic revival architecture is being maintained in order to blend in with the rest of the historic 200-year old campus. 

To maintain the building’s original granite exterior, the granite stones are being repointed.  

Slattery said, “Repointing is when the joints of brick or stonework are repaired by filling in with grout or mortar.  The primary purpose of this is to prevent water from infiltrating into the building.” 

In addition, the building’s large parapet stones - that sit along the perimeter of the roof - are also being removed to replace the flashing. 

“Flashing is typically a strip of metal which is used to prevent water from penetrating the junction of a building's roof with the surrounding areas,” said Slattery.  

The building’s well known historic tower clock is also being refurbished.  

“The renovation will provide the Cadets a more comfortable and modern space for daily life, which will allow them to spend more time focusing on their course work and other obligations,” said Slattery.

The barracks is expected to be available to the Cadets in the Fall of 2018.

Pershing was dedicated to his country and to educating future military leaders.  The U.S. Military Academy shares this dedication and is demonstrating this with the modernization of the building that bears his name.