Construction for the future headquarters of the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency continues with plans for a fifth building expected to hold up to 4,000 people.
The NSA and Cyber Command will not be moving far. Just over to Fort Meade’s east campus.
The east campus is 242 acres on Fort Meade that is slated to serve as the center for the U.S. Cyber Command and NSA, which already call the military installation home, according to a fact sheet from the Army Corps of Engineers. When construction, which is expected to last until 2026, is finished, there will be multi-purpose buildings, secure administrative offices, a cyber operations center and multiple parking decks.
The buildings NSA and Cyber Command currently occupy no longer meet the agencies’ needs, according to a statement from the office of Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, who represents Fort Meade. Building new offices is more cost-effective for taxpayers than retrofitting the current ones.
“It’s a no-brainer from both an economic and security standpoint!” according to the statement.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the projects, started work on east campus more than five years ago.
The Dorothy Blum Data Center, a joint operations center, Marine Forces Cyber and the first two buildings have already been constructed, with the second east campus building finished in September 2020, according to the Army Corps of Engineers fact sheet.
A third building is slated to finish in May 2023, a fourth in April 2026. Building five should be finished in May 2028. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently seeking architectural and engineering services for the fifth building and an accompanying parking deck.
The fifth building is expected to be 900,000 gross square feet, according to the contract opportunity. The project has an expected budget of $775 million for fiscal years 2024 through 2026, according to the Army Corps of Engineers fact sheet.
Building five is bigger than building four, which will be approximately 854,000 square feet. Building four’s price tag is $782 million, according to an Army Corps of Engineers fact sheet. Money for the project will be budgeted as soon as fiscal year 2022.
Although the east campus building will hold the NSA and Cyber Command headquarters, the project is not directly expected to increase jobs, said Jaime Lennon, spokesperson for Ruppersberger.
There will be jobs due to the construction needs, Lennon said in an email. The increased capabilities that the new buildings will provide will also likely lead to uniform military growth.
“We believe the overall growth at Fort Meade – supplemented by investments on the East Campus and at many other tenants there -- will lead to a population above 70,000 in the years to come,” according to the statement from Ruppersberger’s office.
At least some of the buildings currently occupied by NSA and Cyber Command will be demolished as part of the project. A draft environmental impact report for the project from 2016 included demolition of 1.9 million square feet of buildings and infrastructure, The Capital previously reported.
Building 9800 and 9800A, which are historic buildings that are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, are two buildings that could be torn down, although the draft included working with the Maryland Historical Trust for the removal of building 9800a.
Building 9800 was the first operations building for the NSA, and when it was built in 1957, it was the third-largest government building in the Washington, D.C. area, according to previous Capital reporting.
With the finished east campus, more than 7,200 personnel who work off-site could work out of Fort Meade, according to the draft environmental report. That could increase traffic to the installation.
It is also likely that construction of one of the three remaining buildings will happen on the site of the Downs family cemetery.
In May 2020, a Maryland District Court judge granted the right to build national security computing facilities on the ground, The Capital previously reported.
The two headstones and remains of William and Mary A. Downs will be re-interred at Bethel Cemetery, which is also on Fort Meade.
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The National Security Agency directed any requests for comment to the Army Corps of Engineers.