Army Corps Improvements at U.S. Army Installation Focus on Soldier’s Safety

US Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
Published March 16, 2021

Executive Offices at Picatinny Arsenal in northern New Jersey.


The footprint of what will become a new Robotics Building: A 12,500 sq. ft. facility that includes testing areas, workshops and administrative space.


Inside the new Munitions Disassembly Building. Nearly 70 percent complete, the 10,000 sq. ft. concrete structure, expected to be complete this fall, will have multiple workshops to execute missions.


One of five earth-covered magazines providing nearly 6,000 square feet of space for long- and short-term storage of explosives and ammunition.


The new Munitions Disassembly Building under construction.

The New York District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making $41 million in improvements at Picatinny Arsenal in northern New Jersey ─ a U.S. Army installation providing products and services to all branches of the U.S. Military.

Military Research & Manufacturing

The Arsenal, a military research and manufacturing facility spread over 6,400 acres, is the U.S. Army’s Joint Center of Excellence for Armaments and Munitions. Some 6,000 scientists, engineers and support personnel work here to bring the best war-fighting technology to Soldiers.

Brig. Gen. Vincent F. Malone II is Commanding General, leading the mission to develop and procure conventional and advanced munitions to increase the Warfighter's combat power.

Facility History

In September 1880, the then War Department established Dover Powder Depot; four days later it was renamed Picatinny Powder Depot. In 1907, the U.S. Army renamed it Picatinny Arsenal and established its first powder factory on the site. While continuing to produce munitions, the Arsenal moved into research and development, starting a school to instruct officers in weaponry sciences in 1911.

Early on, the Arsenal’s primary method of transporting goods was by rail. The Wharton & Northern Railroad (succeeded by Jersey Central) was laid through the heart of the valley where the Arsenal now resides. The Arsenal maintained nearly 49 miles of its own Picatinny Arsenal Railroad ─ a narrow- and standard-gauge railway transporting fuel, raw materials and ammunition. Today, it’s a distant memory: Only traces of the once-busy line exist.

Development & Expansion

Testing and control laboratories were constructed during World War I (1914-18) and, in 1919, the beginnings of an experimental plant for the design and development of artillery ammunition. In 1921, the Arsenal assumed responsibility for experimental work on fuses. To keep pace with U.S. Army needs, the Arsenal gradually evolved, acquiring land and houses from local farmers.

Picatinny is a unique facility with unique capabilities. The Arsenal streamlines acquisition, delivers armaments to warfighters quickly, and maintains partnerships with universities and industry, involving them early in the research and development process. Picatinny also uses special laboratories and facilities to evaluate prototype designs, reducing development time.

The Arsenal is also available to contractors and other government agencies that belong to the National Energetic Materials Consortium (NEMC) ─ an entity developed by leading universities across the U.S. to combine science and technical resources of the academic community with the manufacturing resources of private industry.

Supporting the Military

The Army Corps of Engineers has an important mission supporting the warfighter. To that end, the Army Corps’ Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC), headquartered in Vicksburg, Mississippi, solves challenging problems in civil and military engineering for the U.S. Army and Department of Defense. In fact, ERDC produces more than 35 products supporting the U.S. Military in combat zones and, as technologies mature, collaborate with Department of Defense technology proponents to transition these technologies to help save Soldiers' lives.

Commitment to Soldier’ Safety

The New York District is part of the national effort to promote Soldier’ safety and save lives. That’s precisely the objective of the new Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Facility now under construction at Picatinny Arsenal.

District Commander Col. Matthew Luzzatto commented: “It [the facility] really highlights the diversity of missions that we, as a District, provide in support of the military. It’s not just barracks and airfields: It’s that unique capability we have to help protect Soldier’s lives.”

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Facility

In bitter cold and two feet of new snow, Col. Luzzatto was joined by Army Corps’ North Atlantic Division Commander Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Tickner and Army Corps personnel inspecting construction sites. They reviewed progress the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Facility – a series of buildings designed to learn more about ─ and mitigate the dangers of ─ unexploded munitions. Lessons learned by Army Corps experts in these facilities will be shared with the U.S. Army, increasing safety for Soldiers in combat. The facility was designed by New York District architects and engineers in conjunction with the architectural-engineering firm Mason and Hanger Group Inc.

Earth-Covered Magazines

One site was a large open field with five nearly complete earth-covered magazines providing 6,000 square feet of space for long- and short-term storage of explosives and ammunition. These concrete structures ─ almost entirely underground ─ are designed to contain an explosion within a designated blast arc hazard area associated with the site.

Munitions Disassembly Building

Another site was a new Munitions Disassembly Building that will be used to safely diffuse and disassemble unexploded munitions and improvised explosive devices. Nearly 70 percent complete, the 10,000 sq. ft. concrete structure, expected to be complete this fall, will have multiple workshops to execute missions.   

Construction Challenge

Another part of the facility is a new Robotics Building. During excavation, workers discovered unexploded munitions and buried concrete structures. Work was stopped and experts called in to search the footprint and safely remove munitions. (This discovery was not a complete surprise: The Arsenal was a major producer of munitions for the U.S. Military during World War I (1914-18) and World War II (1939-45) when nearly 20,000 people worked there.)

Baltimore District Collaboration

Experts called in are explosive ordnance disposal professionals from the Army Corps’ Baltimore District. They spent the month of February searching for and safely removing unexploded munitions. They’re part of the Army Corps’ military construction mission and stand ready to address military munitions in the environment. When the site is cleared of all impediments, work will resume on a 12,500 sq. ft. facility that includes testing areas, workshops and administrative space.

Additional Site Improvements

In addition to new and renovated buildings, other improvements at the Arsenal include:

● New lighting, parking, access gates, information systems and landscaping

● Access for individuals with disabilities, cyber security, and sustainable-energy measures

● Entrance gates and new access roads

Building 15 Addition

Another initiative is a 15,026 sq. ft. addition featuring three reconfigurable collaborative laboratories essential to support team efforts rapidly developing complex concepts and analyzing them in a virtual environment. There’s a collaboration laboratory for high-priority program development; a secure virtual integration and simulation laboratory; and an open laboratory for large-scale integration.