KABUL, Afghanistan – A ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the Presidential Information and Coordination Center here June 10, 2014. Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, national security advisor, welcomed more than 70 Afghan and American dignitaries to the event, including James B. Cunningham, ambassador of the United States to Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan commander, and Col. Michael Price, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAD) commander.
During the ceremony, Dunford noted that the building represents more than the brick and mortar. “Although we’ve come together to inaugurate a new building, today’s ceremony is about much more than that. It’s about what this structure represents. This building symbolizes a rising nation that is emerging from decades of suffering and violence. The building symbolizes the growing capability and professionalism of the Afghan Office of National Security and the Afghan National Security Forces. The building symbolizes America’s continued commitment to the Afghan people.”
USACE oversaw construction of the two-story Presidential Information and Coordination Center (PICC). It will be the center of situational awareness and crisis reporting in Afghanistan. The new center will house intelligence functions that bolster the Afghan government’s ability to fight insurgent forces, and to deal with national special security events such as conflicts, natural disasters and civil disturbances.
The high-visibility project, located on the Presidential Palace grounds, was designed by New England District architect Bogdan Figiel, who deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. The 20,000-square-foot facility features an Islamic-inspired crescent arch, atrium windows and a grand lobby with matching curved staircases ascending to interior galleries that overlook the first floor. In keeping with the old-world charm of adjacent buildings on the compound, the outside of the building is made of stucco and stone finished with classical details.
During a tour of the center, Dustin Rhodes, TAA’s PICC project manager, praised the dedication and professionalism of Afghan quality assurance engineers Najib Alemi and Haidar Maryar.
“Construction of the center in the compact walled compound presented many challenges that could not have been overcome without their perseverance and dedication to the mission and their country,” Rhodes said.
The major challenge with the project related to security, specifically the delivery of materials.
“Why is that important? For each load, the contractor had to submit a request to deliver three days in advance,” Rhodes said. “Once on site, if they needed a piece of equipment or tool or material, they couldn’t just run out and get it and bring it back. The process would have to start over again for each item. So it you needed more nails, a request would need to be submitted and three days later the nails could be delivered to the project site.”
Rhodes said Alemi and Maryar were the conduits working out daily kinks with the maintenance department, utilities, palace engineers and security. Alemi started work on the project in 2011 and Maryar in 2012, which added continuity throughout the project.
In closing Dunford said, “It feels good, about the future of Afghanistan, to look again at this building and what it symbolizes. It’s much more than the brick and the mortar that’s here. It’s a physical manifestation of the enduring partnership between our two countries, and it’s an example of the progress we’ve made in the past 13 years toward our common goals.”