Designing a New Campus for the Air Force's Recon Raiders

Four years after an epic flood swamped buildings and infrastructure at Offutt Air Force Base, construction is underway on a new campus for the 55th Security Forces Squadron.

Offutt leadership recently broke ground on the $68.5 million campus project in Bellevue, Nebraska, just south of Omaha. The 100,000 square feet of new buildings will include an operations control center, combined combat arms training and maintenance facility, military working dog facility, and mobility and logistics storage area.

Olsson has delivered engineering, landscape architecture, and other preconstruction services for a project that will serve the air base’s highly trained security squadron. Our teams will provide additional services throughout construction.

The original campus was destroyed in 2019 after the Missouri and Platte Rivers breached levees and flooded the southeastern portion of the air base. Unleashed by a bomb cyclone, the flooding left an estimated $10.8 billion in destruction across a multistate region.

The security campus will make up one of eight new campuses to be built as part of the $1 billion recovery effort at Offutt.

“This is a big step forward,” Col. Jasin Cooley, 55th Mission Support Group commander, said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “We still have a long path ahead of us, but this groundbreaking is an important milestone.”

Members of the 55th Security Forces Squadron (55th SFS), known as the Recon Raiders, are responsible for guarding and defending personnel and $9.1 billion in military assets at Offutt. Despite the challenges related to the flood, the Recon Raiders have earned recognition as the best security forces squadron in the Air Force two years running.

“It has been an honor to assemble a team of professionals across multiple disciplines with a role in this critically important project for the military security personnel who serve our nation,” said Ricky Haase, project manager and a leader on Olsson’s General Civil team.

Olsson is a part of the design-build project team that includes Mortenson, the lead contractor; FGM Architects, SSC Engineering, and Baldridge & Associates Structural Engineering.

The key services Olsson delivered prior to construction included survey, geotechnical investigation, environmental permitting related to air quality and contaminated soils, and cathodic protection analysis.

Our teams completed civil engineering designs for utilities, which includes telecommunications, electrical, natural gas, water, sanitary sewer, and storm drainage networks. Olsson engineers also designed parking areas, sidewalks, fire lanes, and large-block retaining walls for the roughly 15-acre campus. 

To reduce risk from future flooding, the land where the base is situated has been raised by 10 feet. In addition, levees south and east of the base have been raised above where they were during the 2019 disaster.

Ensuring proper drainage for the elevated project site was just one of several unique challenges. To meet governmental standards for the discharge of stormwater, our teams designed a network of vegetated swales that will slow and filter runoff. The design features several hydrodynamic separators, devices that remove coarse solids and other contaminants from stormwater.

Many Olsson employees have contributed to the project. Ricky said others with major roles were Katie Underwood, civil engineering industry expert; Jane Earnhart, senior landscape architect; and Bob Minert, associate landscape architect.

During construction, Olsson will provide routine testing of construction materials, welds, and soil compaction. We also will provide inspections and commissioning services to determine whether all systems in the campus buildings function as designed.

If construction goes as planned, the Recon Raiders will have a new campus in late 2024.

Site renderings courtesy of Mortenson and FGM Architects.

The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) photograph does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.



John Bertino
Client Relationship Manager
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