Construction of intelligence campus in Bethesda underway -- Gazette.Net


New, greener buildings and walking paths

by Agnes Blum

Staff Writer

You wouldn’t know it driving down Sangamore Road in Bethesda, but high on a bluff, overlooking the Potomac River and tucked behind tall trees, is the 30-acre Intelligence Community Campus.

On Thursday, the Montgomery County Planning Board heard the latest on the construction plans on the site, a federal facility that is being retrofitted by the Defense Intelligence Agency and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

The plans were submitted voluntarily to the board, which made 11 recommendations that will be sent to the National Capitol Parks Commission. One recommendation is to ensure that all of the glass being used would be treated to deter birds, who often fly into glass windows, injuring or even killing themselves. Other recommendations were to use permeable pavements on all pedestrian paths and try to capture more storm runoff.

A complete list of recommendations is posted at

Thursday’s discussion centered on one building, the Centrum building, on the south campus. The footprint of that building will be 40,470 square feet, according to documents, and will have environmentally friendly design elements, such as a green roof.

Dana Pomeroy, who is leading the design and building team for the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, said it was essential the development “fit into the fabric of the community.”

That means lots of green space and woods and using materials and colors that blend in with the architecture of the neighborhood.

The campus will be a secured site and not open to the public, but Pomeroy said that “we wanted families and folks to not feel like this was a prison.”

To that end, they plan to install numerous jogging, walking and bike trails for employees to use before, after and even during work.

The site will be an “intelligence center” and a major employer in the area, with about 3,000 employees.

The Intelligence campus will be renovated as part of the 2005 federally mandated Base Realignment and Closure, which moved thousands of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employees from Bethesda to Fort Belvoir, Va., leaving room for additional employees in Bethesda.

The campus will host employees from the National Intelligence University, additional personnel from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), administrative personnel from the Defense Intelligence Agency, and select personnel from the National Media Exploitation Center, an agency that analyzes collective intelligence, such as documents.

Bobby Bourgeois, the program manager for the project at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said community engagement was paramount to the project’s success, so the agency updated the community regularly with letters and meetings.