Posts tagged with "department of homeland security":

Trump administration waives over 30 laws to jumpstart border wall construction

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a series of waivers for the construction of a border wall section in New Mexico. The department announced that it would be waiving more than 30 laws, most of them environmental, to begin construction on a 20-mile-long stretch of bollard wall near the Santa Teresa port on the U.S.-Mexico border. Citing the area’s flat terrain and high rates of border crossings, DHS Secretary Kirsten Nielsen successfully petitioned for the waiver on January 22; as a result, the existing vehicle barrier will be replaced with an 18-foot-tall stretch of steel bollards atop concrete. While the shorter barriers, often X-shaped, are effective at stopping vehicles, the widely-spaced posts are easy to pass through or climb over on foot. Under the Bush administration's REAL ID Act in 2005, the DHS Secretary is permitted to waive all federal, state, and local laws when building in the border region. According to Vice, some of the regulations waived include the National Environmental Policy Act, which would have required an environmental review of the project, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. That last waiver is especially damaging as the Santa Teresa port sits within the Chihuahuan Desert, one of the most ecologically diverse, and fragile, desert landscapes in the world. Environmentalists immediately slammed the administration for granting the DHS the waiver. "The Trump administration is stopping at nothing to ram through this destructive border wall," said Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Brian Segee. "Trump’s divisive border wall is a humanitarian and environmental disaster, and it won’t do anything to stop illegal drug or human smuggling." While the Center for Biological Diversity considers a lawsuit to block the issuance of the waiver, the conservation organization is also fighting to prevent a similar waiver from taking effect in San Diego. A hearing on the San Diego case is scheduled for February 9, when the Center for Biological Diversity will attempt to argue that the Trump administration lacks the authority to issue waivers that bypass the Endangered Species Act. The DHS has also opened itself up to lawsuits from cultural activist groups with this move. Secretary Nielsen has also waived the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act. While the department has pledged to "ensure that impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic artifacts are analyzed and minimized, to the extent possible," it remains to be seen how the rollback will affect these goals. In an analysis of the border wall expansion across South Texas leaked last November, the Army Corps of Engineers bluntly described the cultural and environmental damage that would result from a similar installation. It’s likely any further expansion of a physical barrier across America’s southern border would exacerbate the damage we’ve already done there, as existing sections of the wall have already limited animal migration patterns for dozens of species.

BREAKING: Department of Homeland Security seeking white papers for “complete physical barrier” with Mexico

The United States Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL) has issued a new Request for Information (RFI) pertaining to the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. The RFI is different from the earlier Presolicitation Noticed issued last week by DHS, which has already garnered responses from hundreds of interested parties. The PIL is housed within the office of the Chief Procurement Officer at DHS and this new order seeks to “to solicit ideas from industry and other partners for the more comprehensive long-term strategy related to the border wall.” The call also asks for firms, nonprofits, and other interested parties to submit white papers in pursuit of "innovative ideas to design, finance and complete construction" of a "complete physical barrier" between the United States and Mexico.  See below for the full RFI text:
This Request for Information (RFI) is being issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) under the auspices of the Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL). The information requested under this RFI is separate and distinct from Presolicitation Notice 2017-JC-RT-0001, which was posted by the DHS Customs and Border Protection (DHS CBP) Procurement Directorate, and any Request for Proposals (RFP) flowing therefrom. That presolicitation notice, any amendments, and the anticipated RFP will, of course, be authoritative with respect to themselves, notwithstanding anything in this RFI. Thematically and conceptually, the RFP anticipated to follow the CBP presolicitation notice is designed to focus on a very near term effort. Some of those designs could become prototypes that will, in turn, advise the development of requirements for the actual wall. The details of the RFP are still under development, but it could include provision for construction of an initial segment of the wall. The procurement of the complete, extensive wall will come sometime later. Interested parties should note that participation in Presolicitation Notice 2017-JC-RT-0001 and any related procurement does not preclude offerors from participating in this RFI, and participation in this RFI does not preclude offerors from participating in Presolicitation Notice 2017-JC-RT-0001. The purpose of this RFI is to solicit ideas from industry and other partners for the more comprehensive long-term strategy related to the border wall. There are many other considerations for completion of the border wall. DHS recognizes that industry, other agencies, and other private entities may have interesting and useful ideas about how we could proceed. We would like to invite submissions of any such ideas so we can consider them as we develop a complete and comprehensive long-term strategy. This strategy will need to accommodate the entire Southwest Border, which has a quite diverse range of terrain, foliage, population, wildlife, and other features. Exemplar areas of the Southwest Border where we might initiate more extensive construction could include the Rio Grande Valley in the southeast of Texas, the area in and around El Paso, the desert along the Arizona border, and the area south of San Diego, California.
To that end, and pursuant to FAR Parts 10 and 15.201, DHS seeks white papers from companies, not for profits, educational institutions, consortia, and other entities with innovative ideas to design, finance and complete construction of physical infrastructure, known as the "wall" on the Southwest land Border of the United States to aid the Border Patrol in detecting and preventing illegal border crossings. The infrastructure will provide a complete physical barrier along the Southwest land Border. DHS is interested in ideas including, but not limited to: • Models for financing, constructing and maintaining the wall. • Multi or dual use functions for the wall and/or wall corridor. • Tools and methods to determine the best type of wall for each section of the Southwest Border. This would include the ability to tradeoff security capability, acquisition, life cycle cost, useful life and other factors. • Technology that could be incorporated into the wall that would contribute to border security and agent safety including but not limited to, sensors, cameras, access roads, brush removal. • Proposed business/contract terms and conditions that would optimize risk avoidance for DHS and its business partners in providing strong security quickly, efficiently, and effectively. This would include, but is not limited to whether this endeavor should be a contract or grant, partnership or financial assistance program; necessary length of an agreement, benefits of one partner vs. many different partners on various areas of the border and major deviations from federal law or regulation necessary to make this innovation possible. • How to bring economic benefit and jobs to the regions (states, counties, cities, individuals) cooperating with DHS on the wall project. White papers should be no longer than five (5) pages. If known, the papers should identify the largest obstacles to accomplishing the idea and proposed methods of overcoming the obstacles. Alternatives within a proposed model are encouraged. DHS may set up meetings (in person or telephonic) with respondents whose white papers, in the opinion of DHS, have merit and value in further discussion. A response to this market research is not required to participate in future acquisitions. Similarly, DHS's decision not to continue communications regarding a white paper does not prohibit that respondent from participating in future acquisitions for this program. Nonproprietary responses are preferred but DHS will also consider responses marked in total or in part proprietary. Please note however, that DHS does not consider these responses unsolicited proposals nor does it intend to award a sole source contract from the responses to this market research notice. Therefore, nonproprietary responses are of the most value to DHS as it proceeds forward with the wall. This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a Request for Proposal or as an obligation on the part of the Government to acquire any services or hardware. Your response to this RFI will be treated as information only. No entitlement to payment of direct or indirect costs or charges by the Government will arise as a result of contractor submission of responses to this announcement or Government use of such information. No funds have been authorized, appropriated, or received for this effort. DHS may use the responses to inform its development of future border infrastructure requirements. Interested parties are responsible for adequately marking proprietary or competition sensitive information contained in their response. The U.S. Government is not obligated to notify respondents of the results of this survey. The purpose of this RFI is solely to conduct market research. Classified information should not be submitted nor will it be accepted. The Government will not return any materials submitted. The requested information should be provided to: Wall_Innovations@hq.dhs.gov Responses are requested by March 31, 2017.
More information can be found on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Finding Asylum: Tracing the evolution of five Kirkbride Planned hospitals for the insane

The Victorian-era psychologist Thomas Story Kirkbride advocated the use of fresh air and elegant architecture for healing mental illnesses. Under the Kirkbride Plan for asylums, patients resided in extensive, well-landscaped grounds and palace-like structures. Yet inside, unplanned by the architects, patients often were restrained in chains and dark dungeons and suffered ice-water baths. Fortunately, these immoral practices were abandoned, but so were the Victorian buildings that housed them, and these elegant structures deteriorated from neglect. Many Kirkbride Plan facilities have since been demolished, but at least forty remain. Once shameful and secret, these asylums are revamping community pride and local economies, as architects renovate the properties for a variety of uses.
St. Elizabeths Hospital Southeast Washington, D.C. For example, the 182-acre West Campus of the former Government Hospital for the Insane, later known as St. Elizabeths Hospital, will house the new United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters. This Southeast Washington, D.C. asylum housed up to 8,000 patients, including multiple presidential assassins and would-be assassins, such as Richard Lawrence (Andrew Jackson), Charles J. Guiteau (James Garfield), and John Hinckley, Jr. (Ronald Reagan). Working with DHS, Shalom Baranes Associates and Grunley Construction are repairing the 264,300-square-foot Center Building, originally designed by Thomas U. Walter, the primary architect of the 1851 expansion of the U.S. Capitol building. The Center Building’s seven connected structures originally served as administrative offices and treatment rooms for the Government Hospital for the Insane but will now house all DHS operations, saving $64 million per year in rental costs, since DHS operations are currently scattered across dozens of buildings in the District. Read more from AN here.
Hudson River State Hospital Poughkeepsie, New York In 2007, six years after the Hudson River Psychiatric Center closed, the abandoned asylum was struck by lightning, burning its south wing, what used to be the male housing quarters. In April 2010, two more fires occurred, although these reportedly were intentional. Then, in November 2013, the abandoned, burnt, and deteriorated Gothic Revival structure, was purchased for $4 million. Diversified Realty Advisors and EnviroFinance Group (EFG/DRA Heritage) are transforming it into a $200 million, mixed-use development, called Hudson Heritage. The original grounds were designed by Olmsted & Vaux and the buildings were designed by Frederick Clarke Withers. Four of the 59 original buildings will be re-purposed, whereas the other 55 will be demolished. The development calls for a 350,000 square foot shopping center, 750 single and multifamily residences, and an 80 room hotel, which was an original Kirkbride. Read more from AN here.
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital Morris Plains, New Jersey Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital abandoned a 675,000-square-foot, Second Empire Baroque building by architect Samuel Sloan. After the facility closed in 2008, Preserve Greystone, a volunteer organization, emerged to fight for its adaptive-reuse. However, the original Greystone Park could not be saved and was demolished at taxpayers’ expense of $50 million. John Huebner, president of Preserve Greystone, called the demolition “an irretrievable loss for this generation and countless future ones, and an affront to the generation that built it.” Hueber hopes to make a memorial for the site and preserve 1,000 linear feet of granite building facade, two marble columns, decorative pieces, and as many trees as possible. Read more from AN here.
Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane Buffalo, New York The Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, by architect H.H. Richardson and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, is undergoing a $56 million make-over, funded both publicly and privately. The current design team is made up of Flynn Battaglia Architects (executive architect), Deborah Berke Partners (design architect), Goody Clancy (historic preservation architect), and Simpson, Gumpertz & Heger (structural engineer). The three main buildings will house a hotel and conference center along with the Buffalo Architecture Center (BAC). Deborah Berke Partners redesigned the north-side entry as a beacon, with a glass entryway, highlighting the coexistence of historic and modern. Construction is underway and is expected to open in fall 2016 as Hotel Henry, Urban Resort Conference Center. Read more from AN here.
Northern Michigan Asylum Traverse City, Michigan Dr. James Decker Munson, the first superintendent of Northern Michigan Asylum, was a firm believer of “beauty is therapy.” He exposed patients to beautiful flowers, provided year round through the greenhouses and trees on the hospital property. The Victorian-Italianate facilities were designed by architect Gordon W. Lloyd and at their peek housed around 3,000 patients. The 63-acre complex closed in 1989, and was vacant until 2002 when Raymond Minervini purchased the entirety for only one dollar. The rehabilitation, called the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, cost $60 million, and by 2005, housed residences, offices, shops, and eateries. The firehouse is now a bakery, and the laundry room is a wine bar and fair-trade coffee shop. The rehabilitation is expected to house 1,000 people–ranging from 300 square foot studio apartments to 3,800 square foot condos– provide 800 jobs, and host farmers markets, easter egg hunts, and beer and dairy festivals. Despite their negative associations, asylums exhibit excellent design and craftsmanship, and are adaptable to an endless variety of uses. Photographer Christopher Payne is an authority on these old facilities, photographing dozens of them for his book, Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals. "Payne, who trained as an architect before turning to photography, is attuned to the incongruously fine detail or trace of order among landscapes of decay," AN's Jeff Byles wrote in a review of an exhibit of the book's photos. "Perhaps the most affecting images in Asylum are those that confront head-on the human experience of asylum life: dozens of toothbrushes hung neatly in a cabinet, each labeled with the name of its owner; patient suitcases piled sadly in an attic; bowling shoes at the ready for a night at the lanes in Rockland" For more photos of abandoned asylums, visit Payne's website here.

Before the Department of Homeland Security moves into its old insane asylum home, the National Historic Landmark will need some intense TLC

Although a designated landmark, the proposed new site for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the heart of the St. Elizabeths West Campus, Washington D.C., is an intense fixer-upper. Working with architects Shalom Baranes Associates and contractor Grunley Construction, the General Services Administration proposes a total renovation of the 264,300 square foot Center Building, a collection of seven connected structures that served as patient treatment rooms and administrative offices for the original Government Hospital for the Insane. It later became known as the St. Elizabeths Hospital. Once rehabilitated, the Center Building will house the DHS headquarters and the Secretary’s Office. Located north of the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, the 176-acre west campus was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1990. The Center Building was shuttered three years ago following the transfer of St. Elizabeths Hospital functions to the east campus, and photos submitted to the National Capital Planning Commission show that the building is deteriorating on the inside. Its exterior openings were boarded up in 2014 in advance of its reuse. "Basically, this project entails the integration of a completely new building within the envelope of the original and restored facades,” reads the submission to the NCPC. “Critical to the project's success is not only the preservation of important historic fabric, but the optimum interplay between historic planning ideals and modern, efficient workspace." The preservation and restoration project includes building stabilization from below grade, masonry repairs, window replacements, the removal and reconstruction of interior walls and floors, porch reconstruction, and landscape upgrades, among other fixes. To finance the repairs, President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget request includes $379.7 million to fund the second and third phases of the DHS campus consolidation.