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Even before its formal groundbreaking Monday, work is well underway on the $50 million Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center on the Augusta University Riverfront campus. The mission of the center – to provide cybersecurity education and training to students. and a wide variety of workers – has also begun and is taking shape as well, said Calvin Rhodes, executive director of the Georgia Technology Authority tasked with building the center.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who has championed the center, and other officials will gather at 10 a.m. for the ceremony, which will also include an announcement about a new partnership between AU, the state of Georgia and a partner to be named at the ceremony, he said.

Much of the planning of both the exterior and interior of the 159,000-square-foot building has been completed, Rhodes said.

“A big accomplishment is we have picked out the look and feel of the interiors. We have settled on all interior wall placements for the space that is going to be finished,” he said, with about half the building initially finished for tenants and the other half available for lessees to finish. “We are still making some adjustments to the connection to the (Savannah River) levee from the second floor of the building.”

That would connect the building to what Rhodes envisions will be an extension of the current Riverwalk Augusta. Planning for the $12 million, 575-space parking deck is also complete, and the state and the city of Augusta are working out the details to manage the deck, which may go before the Augusta Commission this week.

The current work is proceeding quickly because of excellent cooperation from agencies, particularly the city of Augusta, which granted land disturbance permits in “record time,” Rhodes said.

“The partnership there has been tremendous, which has allowed us to go ahead and start doing several things early,” he said.

Most of the grading and underground work with utilities and storm drains is underway and should be done by July 26, with concrete pouring of foundations and footings to begin soon after, Rhodes said. The building has a very quick schedule after that, with steel going up in September, the shell of the building completed by Jan. 31, with drywall starting in February. The building is scheduled to be completed June 21, 2018, and open July 10, 2018, he said.

Much of the interior design has been done in conjunction with AU, which will manage the day-to-day operation of the center, and other partners that will be housed in the building, including the University System of Georgia, Augusta Technical College, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia National Guard, Rhodes said. Those agencies and the Army Cyber School have also been involved in working groups to shape the training and curriculum that will be offered both in and through the center, he said.

The goal is to “stand up programming that it is going to fit well together,” he said.

The authority has already launched the Georgia Cybersecurity Workforce Academy to begin that training, Rhodes said. The academy “will train state and local government computer security officers on how to better do their jobs, and sharpen their skills, and learn new skills,” he said. “That’s something that our agency and the executive branch of government will benefit from on day one.

“(But) the different partners are already working together and we have individuals in classes today learning that new course of study to help them be successful. The piece that we’re missing right now is they cannot go yet and test those skills inside of a Cyber Range to make sure they’ve learned what we’ve discussed in a classroom.”

The large cyber range within the building, one of only a handful in the country, will be a major site of training and learning once the building is completed. AU Cyber Institute, which has a small cyber range now, will be located within the building as well.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Tom Corwin/Staff Writer

AU lease agreement gives it naming rights to the old Wells Fargo building.

Augusta University’s name recognition is about to get bigger.

And taller.

AU’s health system has entered a lease agreement for office space in the former Wells Fargo building downtown that grants the school exclusive naming rights for Augusta’s third-tallest building.

“It’s a premier building in downtown Augusta and gives a tremendous amount of visibility,” said Davis Beman, vice president and director of commercial real estate for Blanchard and Calhoun Real Estate Co. “To get the Augusta (University) logo on the side is a pretty special thing.”

The agreement, signed last week, would lease the 14th and sixth floors and basement of the building at 699 Broad St. Each floor of the building encompasses 10,800 square feet.

The university had been looking for more downtown space for several months. Growth on AU’s Health Sciences campus prompted a need to relocate some nonclinical and nonacademic functions off-campus.

AU offices already occupy space in the Augusta Riverfront Center at 1 10th St. Further down Reynolds Street, AU is forming its Riverfront Campus with the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center as its centerpiece.

Shawn Vincent, chief operating officer of AU Medical Center, called the expansion into 699 Broad “the natural choice.”

“Our president, Dr. (Brooks) Keel and our new CEO, Lee Ann Liska, are committed to Augusta University and AU Health being woven into the fabric of this community,” he said. “Signage on one of downtown Augusta’ s most recognizable and iconic buildings is a great step forward to making that a reality.”

While a permanent name for the building has not yet been agreed upon, Vincent said AU plans to place its characteristic shield logo on two sides of the building. “We don’t want to create any confusion that medical care would be available at this building,” he said.

There is no solid timeline for occupancy, but “we would like everyone to be in the building within a few months,” Vincent said.

“Everyone” includes teams whose companies have formed working partnerships with AU.

An alliance with the electronics firm Philips allows the company access to AU’s clinical services to find ways to improve productivity and efficiency in imaging technology. AU’s alliance with Beckman Coulter Inc. performs similar work with diagnostic and business processes.

The 699 Broad space also will house physician liaisons who work with community-based doctors; AU’s Center for Rural Health; and administrative functions associated with the Georgia Correctional HealthCare, AU’s division that provides health care to more than 60 correctional facilities across the state.

AU plans some renovations such as painting, carpeting, ceiling tiles, utility fixtures and accommodations for the offices’ information technology needs. There will be space redesigns, but few walls will be moved.

The 17-story, 262-foot building was completed in 1967 as the new home of the Georgia Railroad Bank and Trust Co. In 1986, First Union Corp. bought the building and attached its name to it.

In 2003, the building bore the Wachovia name to reflect the formal merger of First Union and Wachovia in 2001. In 2008, the building was renamed the Wells Fargo Building after that bank acquired a struggling Wachovia.

The Wells Fargo lettering on the outside of the building was taken down in October 2015 after the bank vacated its branch on the ground floor. At about the same time, Blanchard and Calhoun began marketing the naming rights for the building.

“The availability of naming rights to the building have been attractive from corporate prospects and with the amenities and dedicated parking of the building it has a lease-up potential greater than other properties downtown,” Beman told The Augusta Chronicle at the time.

Augusta Riverfront Limited Partnership has owned the building and adjacent parking lot since 2000. Augusta Riverfront has ties to management of Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Chronicle.

Author: Joe Hotchkiss 

 

Augusta University’s name recognition is about to get bigger.

And taller.

AU’s health system has entered a lease agreement for office space in the former Wells Fargo building downtown that grants the school exclusive naming rights for Augusta’s third-tallest building.

“It’s a premier building in downtown Augusta and gives a tremendous amount of visibility,” said Davis Beman, vice president and director of commercial real estate for Blanchard and Calhoun Real Estate Co. “To get the Augusta (University) logo on the side is a pretty special thing.”

The agreement, signed last week, would lease the 14th and sixth floors and basement of the building at 699 Broad St. Each floor of the building encompasses 10,800 square feet.

The university had been looking for more downtown space for several months. Growth on AU’s Health Sciences campus prompted a need to relocate some nonclinical and nonacademic functions off-campus.

AU offices already occupy space in the Augusta Riverfront Center at 1 10th St. Further down Reynolds Street, AU is forming its Riverfront Campus with the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center as its centerpiece.

Shawn Vincent, chief operating officer of AU Medical Center, called the expansion into 699 Broad “the natural choice.”

“Our president, Dr. (Brooks) Keel and our new CEO, Lee Ann Liska, are committed to Augusta University and AU Health being woven into the fabric of this community,” he said. “Signage on one of downtown Augusta’ s most recognizable and iconic buildings is a great step forward to making that a reality.”

While a permanent name for the building has not yet been agreed upon, Vincent said AU plans to place its characteristic shield logo on two sides of the building. “We don’t want to create any confusion that medical care would be available at this building,” he said.

There is no solid timeline for occupancy, but “we would like everyone to be in the building within a few months,” Vincent said.

“Everyone” includes teams whose companies have formed working partnerships with AU.

An alliance with the electronics firm Philips allows the company access to AU’s clinical services to find ways to improve productivity and efficiency in imaging technology. AU’s alliance with Beckman Coulter Inc. performs similar work with diagnostic and business processes.

The 699 Broad space also will house physician liaisons who work with community-based doctors; AU’s Center for Rural Health; and administrative functions associated with the Georgia Correctional HealthCare, AU’s division that provides health care to more than 60 correctional facilities across the state.

AU plans some renovations such as painting, carpeting, ceiling tiles, utility fixtures and accommodations for the offices’ information technology needs. There will be space redesigns, but few walls will be moved.

The 17-story, 262-foot building was completed in 1967 as the new home of the Georgia Railroad Bank and Trust Co. In 1986, First Union Corp. bought the building and attached its name to it.

In 2003, the building bore the Wachovia name to reflect the formal merger of First Union and Wachovia in 2001. In 2008, the building was renamed the Wells Fargo Building after that bank acquired a struggling Wachovia.

The Wells Fargo lettering on the outside of the building was taken down in October 2015 after the bank vacated its branch on the ground floor. At about the same time, Blanchard and Calhoun began marketing the naming rights for the building.

“The availability of naming rights to the building have been attractive from corporate prospects and with the amenities and dedicated parking of the building it has a lease-up potential greater than other properties downtown,” Beman told The Augusta Chronicle at the time.

Augusta Riverfront Limited Partnership has owned the building and adjacent parking lot since 2000. Augusta Riverfront has ties to management of Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Chronicle.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Joe Hotchkiss/Staff Writer

Wondering when Augusta will become a cyber hub?

It already is.

That’s one of the findings from an Augusta University study designed to learn what regional employers are looking for when staffing metro Augusta’s current and future cyber workforce.

Co-creators of the study shared its major findings Thursday ahead of the full study’s planned release June 26.

“The workforce study has two components,” said Dr. William Hatcher, director of AU’s Master of Public Administration program. “The first part is taking a snapshot of what the data is right now, looking at the cyber workforce right now. The second component was a survey of local businesses, nonprofits and public agencies.”

The study estimated the size of Metro Augusta’s cyber workforce to be 12,716 occupations, which comprises 5.3 percent of the total area workforce. More than 77 percent of the area’s cyber jobs are at Fort Gordon.

Cyber-related jobs tend to be high-wage positions with a mean annual wage between $46,150 to $110,390.

“So right now we’re already a cyber hub,” Hatcher said.

Another finding researchers found interesting came from the employer surveys. When AU queried more than 1,500 companies of varying sizes, nonprofits and public agencies, it concluded that metro Augusta is moving toward fulfilling a prediction from Fortune magazine earlier this year. It listed Augusta as one of the “7 Cities That Could Become the World’s Cybersecurity Capital.”

“Over the next two to five years, with the survey we found we’re going to have about a 138 percent growth based on what the companies told us about the jobs they plan to add in cyber-related occupations,” Hatcher said. “The really interesting take-away from that: That’s mostly from private businesses in the area. That’s not Fort Gordon.”

And that takes into account only the businesses that already are here – not the ones likely to start in or move to metro Augusta in the next five years.

“One of the things we want to do going forward, as a service to the community, is to do this survey every year, and incorporate a component where we’re tracking the number of new businesses created,” Hatcher said. “The spill-off effect of the growth at Fort Gordon that’s going on in the community is that there’s going to be a number of new businesses created – startups, businesses coming to the area. We don’t track that with our survey yet.”

Employers told AU researchers that the top degrees they desire from job applicants are bachelor’s degrees in information technology and computer science. That finding adds to the study’s usefulness.

“How can we as a community come together and cultivate programs where we can educate people to have these types of skills and be prepared for these types of jobs and these types of roles that these companies are looking to (fill) in the next one to five years?” asked Dr. Wesley Meares, an associate professor of political science and public administration and a co-creator of the study.

Because AU already has those degree offerings, Hatcher said that strengthens the school’s ties to the community.

“So if you’re coming up, your family lives here and you’re thinking about college, we have those programs in place and were going to grow those programs,” Hatcher said. “You stay here if you’re going into some kind of computer science instead of going to Georgia Tech. We keep you here and we’re more likely to retain you.”

Creators started designing the study in February and began researching federal labor statistics. Completed surveys were sent the last full week of March – or the week before Masters Week, in hopes of catching employers ahead of the popular golf tournament.

AU sent out 1,554 surveys and 304 were returned. Of those, 278 were “completed to the point of usefulness,” Meares said. That makes a response rate of almost 18 percent, which increases the accuracy of projections.

“Usually when you do surveys the response rates are about 5 to 10 percent,” Hatcher said.

“We were really happy we got upward toward 20 percent. I feel it’s going to be more representative that we got that higher response rate.”

AU also is working on a website to publicize the findings, which will tie to both the school’s MPA program and its Cyber Institute.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Joe Hotchkiss/Staff Writer

It was a long time coming, but Thursday was a big day for what used to be called Project Jackson.

Now, ground has been broken on Riverside Village at Hammond’s Ferry, a new name to reflect that it’s more than a ballpark.

About 200 people turned out for the ceremony. The storm clouds of the last two days parted, but guests had to tread carefully to keep their shoes free of red clay mud.

Jeff Eiseman, the Augusta GreenJackets co-owner, jokingly thanked the Brasfield and Gorrie construction crew for “the lazy river behind home plate.”

Chris Schoen, of master developer Greenstone Properties, said the stadium would be ready on time in April. He said the B&G crew that just finished the new Atlanta Braves stadium was bringing their expertise to North Augusta.

“We’ve got their A team,” he said. “We will be ready.”

Eiseman touted the team’s new website, greenjackets2018.com, which lets visitors see the view from seats in any particular section and buy those tickets.

For example, if you want season tickets behind home plate, in Section 100, Row D, it’ll cost $760 per seat – about $11 per home game if the team plays 70 home games in 2018 as it will in 2017.

The turnout included new Mayor Bob Pettit and former Mayor Lark Jones, who led the project through five years of efforts to derail it, including a lawsuit that took two years to wind its way through the courts and ultimately was decided in the city’s favor by the state Supreme Court.

Jones gave the invocation at the start of the ceremony, thanking God for “the people who brought us to this day,” and asking blessing for “those who have much work still to be done.”

Pettit declared that “the hard work of spring training is over … Play ball!”

Pettit praised City Administrator Todd Glover for his work over the last five years, as did Schoen, who said “Todd is really the one who got the vision.”

Schoen called attention to the mixed-use nature of the development, which will include a hotel/conference center, offices, apartments, single-family housing and retail. He said the finished Riverside Village would be a regional draw, luring 300,000 to 500,000 people a year, with baseball as a catalyst.

Pat O’Conner, president of Minor League Baseball, said it would be “a game-changer,” a place where people would live, work and play next to the “magical” Savannah River.

Minor League Baseball has opened a new stadium every year since 1987, he noted.

“You’re in for something really, really special,” he said.

Bobby Evans, the general manager of the San Francisco Giants – the GreenJackets’ Major League parent club – said Eiseman and Schoen “have been great partners for us,” and talked about how the organization values its South Atlantic League franchise.

The GreenJackets have a history of producing top-tier talent, including Madison Bumgarner and Moises Alou.

North Augusta’s partners in Riverside Village were also on hand. Aiken County Council and Public School District had to agree to the city’s Tax-Increment Financing plan or the development likely would never have made it past the idea stage.

Councilman Chuck Smith and Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford were there for the groundbreaking, along with state Rep. Bill Hixon and state Sen. Tom Young, who represent the area in the legislature.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: James Folker/Staff Writer

 

A former executive with the National Cyber Research Park said the Augusta region has the potential to turn its cyber assets into a $1 billion-a-year industry.

G.B. Cazes, former vice president for the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, La., the anchor facility for the 3,000-acre national research campus, said the Augusta area is “well on its way” to being an international center of cyber education, operations and research and development.

The part-time consultant for the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon was one of several people to brief the Georgia Department of Economic Development on the progress of the “Fort Gordon Cyber District” during the department’s board of directors meeting Wednesday in Augusta.

“I think this seven-county region is going to look quite different 20 years from now in terms of the types of jobs it has,” Cazes said in an interview following the panel discussion, which included presentations from Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Todd Turner, Augusta University Provost Gretchen Caughman and Unisys Vice President Jennifer Napper.

Cazes, president of Metova Solutions, a provider of military-grade cyber training and hardware, likened metro Augusta’s economic connection to Fort Gordon with Huntsville, Ala.’s linkage to the Army’s Redstone Arsenal. He said Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park, the second-largest research park behind North Carolina’s Research Triangle, has the highest concentration of Ph.Ds in the country.

“They are what most communities want to have,” he said. “The economic impact of that research park is over $1 billion. You could have a similar effect here. Your trajectory could be very, very steep.”

The Cyber Innovation Center that Cazes was affiliated with is analogous to the 159,000-square-foot Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center the Georgia Technology Authority is building on the AU Riverfront Campus.

The Fort Gordon Cyber District is the regional moniker local economic development officials are using to promote the two-state metro area as a hub of cybersecurity innovation. Last month a Fortune magazine article named Augusta and Atlanta as two of the “7 Cities That Could Become the World’s Cybersecurity Capital.”

Turner said the base’s 27,000-strong workforce is going to increase as other federal agencies and private contractors seek proximity to Army Cyber Command, which is being relocated from Fort Meade, Md. Construction of the command headquarters and other upgrades at the post are consuming two-thirds of the Army’s entire construction budget.

Turner said the 56,000-acre facility’s 21st century missions, coupled with its utility infrastructure and land availability, make it a candidate to take on non-cyber missions – up to and including airborne and light vehicle operations – if Congress were to reactivate Base Realignment and Closure committees.

“If we ever do go into another BRAC cycle, we have the ability to actually absorb folks that maybe transfer in from other installations,” he told board members.

Caughman noted the university’s $6 million investment to create its Cyber Institute as well as the “Degree Completion Initiative” it launched in January for Department of Defense employees and active-duty service members.

“We are very proud of our military-friendly designation,” she said. “…We believe that we have an imperative to serve those individuals as they have served us and our country.”

Napper, the Unisys executive, will be moving this year from Washington, D.C., to Augusta, where she retired more than three years ago as major general of the Network Enterprise Technology Command.

She told the board Unisys is gearing up to employ 700 in Augusta but has room for up to 1,200. The reason the global IT firm chose the city for its service center and base of cybersecurity operations, she said, was because of the warm reception it received from the business community.

“At the end of the day, it was about the people,” she said. “It’s the people of Georgia who make a difference.”

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Damon Cline/Business Editor

Based on performance metrics, Unisys Corp.’s top-performing service center is its 250-person operation in downtown Augusta. But Unisys CEO Peter Altabef didn’t need to look at a report to know that – he said he could see it in the faces of employees during his first visit to the facility Monday.

“In a prior job, one of the things I would do is walk around the halls and just look at the people,” said Altabef, who served as chief executive of MICROS Systems and Dell Services before joining Unisys in 2015. “It had nothing to do with what they were doing – it was whether they were smiling or not, whether they were friendly, whether they were enthusiastic.”

Altabef said the facility’s above-par performance bodes well for its future.

“We tend to take the long road; we look out a decade or more, and Augusta fits in with that in a lot of different ways,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Augusta Chronicle. “We’re very proud of the facility and the leadership here and where it’s trending.”

The 74,000-square-foot service center at Discovery Plaza provides, among other things, help desk services to the Army and corporate clients ranging from banks to manufacturers. The Blue Bell, Pa.-based Fortune 1000 company provides IT services to companies worldwide.

The IT giant announced in February it was closing a service center in Rochester, N.Y., and relocating about 100 of those positions to Augusta. The company has pledged to Augusta officials that it would employ 700 people here by 2019.

This fall Unisys completed renovating the space’s second-floor to accommodate all 700 workers. The company also has an option on 12,000 additional square-feet of space at the building.

After Altabef’s tour of the facility, which including a “town hall” style meeting with company employees, he had a private meeting with a delegation of local officials and civic leaders, including Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Fort Gordon garrison commander Col. Todd Turner, and members of the local chambers of commerce and development authorities.

Unisys announced in 2014 it would locate a state-of-the-art service center in Augusta. A year later it selected space in the 118,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by the National Science Center’s Fort Discovery science exhibition center in the Port Royal Building.

The operation today oversees all North American service centers and manages the operations side of Unisys’ global cybersecurity business. Proximity to Fort Gordon, home of Army Cyber Command, and its workforce played a major role in the decision to develop the Augusta center.

“Not only are they a client, but you also have a great source of people who may eventually end their careers with the military and look for a career out the military,” Altabef said.

Dale Dye, head of Unisys’ Augusta operation, noted Unisys’ program for military spouses, which enables them in most cases to keep their job through telecommuting if their husband or wife is reassigned to another post.

“That’s part of our commitment to the military spouse community to reduce the amount of unemployment,” he said. “Because if you look at the national employment rate, it’s in single digits, but if you look at the military spouse unemployment rate, it’s over 30 percent. And most military families need double incomes today.”

With it’s unique riverfront location, modern architecture and employee creature-comforts – including an employee cafeteria, quiet rooms and breast-feeding stations – Unisys’ Augusta office has been described as its “flagship” service center.

Altabef acknowledged the facility, the newest in the company, is a showpiece for prospective clients.

“Our growth plans over the next two years are pretty aggressive, so we have to go sign the business then we have to bring the business here,” Altabef said. “The facility itself is an advertisement for us to be able to bring in new clients.”

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Damon Cline/Business Editor

Augusta-based IT firm EDTS LLC on Wednesday announced the formation of a cybersecurity-specific business unit that is projected to employ up to 100 people within five years.

The unit, called EDTS Cyber LLC, would operate out of secured office space in the company’s new headquarters being built at the former Sibley Mill property, which is being redeveloped into a high-tech corporate campus and data center called Augusta Cyberworks.

EDTS CEO Charles Johnson said EDTS Cyber will be able to tap directly into Augusta Cyberworks’ proposed 10-megawatt data center to deliver on a national level the services it currently provides throughout the Southeast from Augusta and three satellite offices in the Carolinas.

“Most importantly, it will help us fulfill our three- to five-year business plan of expanding EDTS and EDTS Cyber to over 250 employees – with 100 new jobs right here in Augusta,” Johnson said during a news conference held at the offices of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Johnson said the construction of the company’s 32,000-square-foot offices at the former textile mill should be completed next month. The company will move from its current location on Broad Street in June, he said.

The 75-employee firm provides managed IT services, consulting and 24-hour monitoring to mostly small and mid-sized businesses. It was founded in Augusta in 1999 as Elliott Davis Technology Solutions and was spun off from the former Elliott Davis accounting firm in 2009.

Johnson said the company is bolstering its cybersecurity operations because cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated and more prevalent. He noted the cost of online crime has surpassed $3 trillion and is expected to double in the next four years.

“Today’s bank robbers look much different,” he said. “No longer do they have to have masks and carry guns to wipe out your bank account – all they need is a computer and an internet connection.”

Johnson said the presence of Army Cyber Command and the National Security Agency at Fort Gordon will help create a local talent pool of skilled cybersecurity professionals.

Sue Parr, CEO of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, referenced a recent Fortune magazine article that named Augusta as one of seven cities with potential to become the “World’s Cybersecurity Capital.”

“This is exactly the type of project that we are pleased to be a part of,” she said.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Damon Cline/Business Editor

The new $50 million Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center will be a combination of many things, a public building that encourages interaction on the lower floors and a secure building on higher floors that offers privacy for agencies and companies that need it, the building’s project manager and state officials said.

That blending will also be reflected on the outside with a mix of brick facade that reflects its downtown location and a sleekness that denotes the cybersecurity role many will play inside.

The international Gensler architecture firm chosen to design the building also comes with an important advantage – the company’s Baltimore office has designed buildings for the intelligence agencies in that area and has a “prototype” that will cut the time needed to design the building nearly in half, officials said.

Gensler’s Atlanta office, one of 45 the company has worldwide, formally signed a contract April 6 and hopes to have construction documents the general contractor can use within 3½ months, where normally at least six months might be needed. The Georgia Technology Authority, which is building the project, is looking to hold a formal groundbreaking in early June, but a date has not yet been set. An official opening date has – July 10, 2018, which creates a timeline that is “a bit aggressive,” said Calvin Rhodes, executive director of the technology authority.

That’s where Gensler’s particular expertise in Baltimore with secure compartmented information facilities, or SCIFS, offered an advantage, said James Puckhaber of the Atlanta office.

“There’s enough demand for these buildings and the developers move so fast that they developed a prototype approach,” he said. “It’s a version of an office building that works really well for cybersecurity tenants.”

For instance, in a normal commercial office building, the architects try to keep its “core,” where typically the elevators and stairs are located in the center, relatively small to emphasize the exterior spaces with a view, Puckhaber said.

“In this case, because of the cyber ranges and SCIF space, the dark space in the core is really valuable to them,” he said, so it is expanded and utilized. There are specific requirements spelled out for these kinds of buildings to prevent snooping or unauthorized access, such as radio frequency isolation of rooms or spaces.

Rhodes spent a couple of days in Augusta last week meeting with tenants and potential users of the building: first with what he called “our federal three-letter partners” who might use the cyber range at the site, a secure area for cybersecurity training, and other secured areas; the following day with Augusta University and Augusta Technical College and other agencies about what their needs would be in the more public areas of the building, he said. That may result in the lower floors being the public, free-flowing area and higher floors being restricted access, Rhodes said.

“As we go higher up in the building, the building is becoming more secure,” he said. “An entire floor can be secure or classified, a component of a floor or none of the floor. That’s part of the building that gives us lots of flexibility because that design has gone into every floor to meet federal requirements to secure that space.”

For instance, a key card might be required to take the elevator to certain floors, Puckhaber said. Walls in secure areas don’t connect with outside glass, a potential weak spot, and a kind of metal mesh is added to regular drywall to help secure the space, he said. Gensler is also the architect for the new U.S. Army Cyber Command headquarters building being constructed at Fort Gordon and some of the secure areas in the Georgia Cyber building may look similar to areas there, Puckhaber said.

But the architects are also drawing inspiration for the more public areas from the J. Harold Harrison Education Commons building at AU, Rhodes said. In particular, for the ground floor of the Georgia Cyber building, there will be classrooms, conference and meeting, rooms but also a lot of public space and outdoor areas, “creating a place where people can just enjoy being together and learning from each other,” Puckhaber said.

“We like some of the open space of (the Harrison building), that will hopefully foster collaboration between the different groups, which we believe is one of the blessings of this space; is the teams all working together to try to solve unique problems in this space,” Rhodes said.

As far as the outside of the building, “We’re going with something, while it is definitely modern, it has significant nods to the brick architecture of the downtown building,” Puckhaber said. It will be in grids with individual windows and brick inlay, he said, with a denser number of windows and more of the look of a downtown building on the front facing that direction and becoming “glassier” as the building moves toward the Savannah River, Puckhaber said, where the building will connect with an extension of Riverwalk Augusta.

“It’s going to be a beautiful façade,” he said. The 320-seat auditorium will be built as a wing on the side of the building, which frees the architects from having to find space for it in the main building and “it gives us more to play with as architects,” Puckhaber said.

They have also put some thought into the landscaping and the outdoor spaces, he said.

“The choice of the planting materials is going to be very traditional and garden-like, in keeping with a lot of what you see in Augusta,” Puckhaber said. The walkways and benches and other outdoor seating, however, “will be very contemporary, clean lines that are in keeping with this technology-oriented building and also show that this is something new and special,” he said.

Having Gensler bring a prototype building design allowed the technology authority “flexibility to spend some time in other areas to produce a better product, and spend more time with the agencies and potential partners,” Rhodes said. “We’ve had a lot of interest from the private sector already.”

In fact, plans were to initially finish out only 75,000 of the 159,000 square feet of the building, with the other space available to tenants like defense contractors or others in related fields who might want o finish the space themselves. But Rhodes said he may soon have leases for potential tenants to consider, which is ahead of schedule.

A big piece also got underway last week when the Augusta Commission approved moving forward on $12 million for a 500-space parking deck, freeing up significant money that can go into the building. Rhodes said that partnership with the commission and Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis “is just significant in us being able to get this done.”

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Tom Corwin/Staff Writer

Augusta officials set in motion Tuesday plans to borrow $12 million to build a parking garage for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center. The conceptual drawing shows a five-story parking deck at the site of the current Golf & Gardens parking.

The Augusta Commission voted 9-0 after a lengthy closed-door session to authorize City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson to negotiate terms by which the city will pay for construction of a parking deck through a $12 million bond issue. Commissioner Grady Smith was absent and said he’d had cataract surgery.

Mayor Hardie Davis called the vote “generational and transformational” as Augusta puts its money toward the state’s plan to invest $50 million in the innovation center on the city’s riverfront.

Architectural drawings showed a five-story parking garage at the current site of parking for the former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, a state-owned property where the innovation center is fast-tracked for construction.

The commission didn’t discuss openly how the city will repay the bonds, whether through a tax increase or reprogramming sales tax funds from other projects.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Susan McCord/Staff Writer