FARMINGTON — Construction is under way on the Bureau of Land Management's new $11.4 million building that will triple the size of the bureau's current building.

Construction began last summer on the new 36,000-square-foot building off College Boulevard north of Sandalwood Drive. Crews are completing the foundation of the stimulus-funded building that's located on 26 acres north of Piedra Vista High School.

The Farmington BLM is one of four district offices in the state and it oversees two field offices: one in Farmington, the other in Taos. It also contains the Federal Indian Minerals Office.

Bureau employees said they are looking forward to moving out of their cluttered quarters on the La Plata Highway in Farmington. About 115 employees work there.

Cubicles occupied by petroleum engineer technicians, geologists, archaeologists, administrators and other employees fit tightly into the 10,000 square-foot building built in 1988.

"The building is starting to show its age," said Joel Farrell, the bureau's assistant field manager.

The bureau even built an office area inside the old building's warehouse.

Six large storage containers outdoors hold records of oil and natural gas wells, roads and pipelines. The bureau's maintenance crew works in a temporary trailer nearby.

The new building will contain more meeting space. There are just two meeting rooms in the bureau's current building, where officials often meet with oil and gas industry employees.

Officials even have met outdoors with members of the public in a pavilion with picnic tables outside the current building, BLM spokesman Bill Papich said.

"You can't do that in the middle of January," Papich said.

Smith Construction Management LLC, of Glendale, Ariz., is building the facility and several New Mexico companies, including some from San Juan County, were hired as subcontractors.

"We prefer local because it's not as far away," said Steve Adams, Smith Construction Management superintendent.

About 30 percent of the new building's power will come from solar panels, Farrell said. BLM is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification, a green building standard.

There will be about 150 parking spaces.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will move into the current building from its Bloomfield office.

Crews have installed a pipe carrying drinking water funded by the city from a water tank in Farmington to the new building and a sewer line is being installed.

The federal government will reimburse the city for the $1.7 million cost of the projects.

Steve Lynn: slynn@daily-times.com