Story by Spc. Christopher A. Garibay, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
URBANA – The 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) based in Urbana celebrated the opening of its recently renovated readiness center with a rededication ceremony and open house on Sunday, Dec. 9.
The $15.3 million dollar Urbana Illinois National Guard Armory Rehabilitation Project brought the 74-year-old facility up to date with the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and is on track to get a LEED Gold rating. The project also sought to ensure the historic integrity of the building.
“The Illinois National Guard must maintain our training and readiness to protect us here and to ensure September 11, 2001 does not happen again on American soil,” said Maj. Gen. Dennis L. Celletti, the Acting Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “To do that, we need modern facilities.”
While the renovated Urbana Readiness Center maintains its historic integrity, it is really a “completely different facility” with the modern communications infrastructure needed to properly train today’s Soldier, Celletti said.
The federal government paid for the entire renovation, said Ron Wright, the administrator for the Construction Administration Division of the Illinois Capital Development Board.
“We are thankful for the economic impact this readiness center and its construction have on the local economy and are honored to work with the Illinois National Guard and the Soldiers who train here to protect our freedoms,” Wright said.
Col. Mark C. Jackson of Frankfort, brigade commander of the 33rd IBCT, spoke about the history of the readiness center and the Soldiers and units that continue to train there.
“The rededication event serves to memorialize the Soldiers who have served and deployed for the brigade and their country,” Jackson said. “This facility will serve as the nerve center for our day-to-day operations and initial mobilizations, but also as a place where Soldiers and families can use various resources available to them, including a Veterans Affairs office and digital computer lab.”
“Today we welcome the community to show them how their tax dollars are being used to make them safer at home and abroad,” said Jackson.
The event marked the official ‘return home’ after being relocated to Danville beginning on Oct. 2009 during the building’s reconstruction and began moving back in March of this year.
“If these walls could talk, they would speak of the many generations of Soldiers who trained in this building,” said Jackson. “They would tell stories of Soldiers being called to respond to natural disasters, civil disturbances, and called upon by their country in times of war.
They would also tell stories of the lifelong friendships that Soldiers developed during their
The new facility has enhanced the capability of Soldiers in HHC, said Jackson.
“The new facility allows us to have better mission capability,” said Capt. Gary A. Bryant of Elmwood, company commander of HHC 33rd IBCT. “Technology is a combat multiplier so as a headquarters company, we can better serve the needs of the battalion and brigade by bringing them to one building and having them work together as they would in country and overseas.”
Bryant said the facility also serves as a space to build the unit’s sense of community.
“Having this kind of space allows us to build a sense of community and unit cohesion,” said Bryant. “It makes the unit perform better knowing they have a centrally located space should any issues arise, they have a support structure that is ready and willing to help.”
Bailey Edward Design served as the project architect for the 82,422-square-foot armory, which required a 9,798-foot addition. To meet the Guard’s needs, the architect integrated a new two-story structure with a mechanical mezzanine within the original drill hall/assembly area.