Unaccompanied Personnel Housing (Barracks)  

by Eric G. Mion
U.S. Cost, Inc.



Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) and Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ) are Unaccompanied Personnel Housing (UPH) facilities for single or married unaccompanied military personnel. Therefore, the facilities described here serve a very specific audience. UPH differs significantly from temporary lodging facilities which may also serve military personnel. Temporary lodging facilities resemble a hotel, with more staff support and guest services, and are geared towards shorter stays. UPH resemble dormitories or commercial apartment buildings and are typically designed for longer stays.

The primary element of these facilities are the living/sleeping quarters, which may be referred to as apartments, rooms, modules, or units, and in recruit groups, as open bay. The name used depends on the branch of Service and the type of room. Occupant rank, training type, and military group cohesion drive the size and design of these spaces. Supporting facility spaces are relatively minimal and may include laundry rooms, mail and vending areas, public toilets, and multipurpose spaces for meetings, training, or recreation.

Building Attributes

A. Space Types and Building Organization

UPH include three categories of functional areas: 1) the apartments, rooms, modules, or units; 2) interior common areas; and 3) exterior recreation/community areas within the site.

Apartments / Rooms / Modules

These spaces are the living quarters for residents. Common configurations include the following:

  • One– to four–bedroom apartment with single occupancy per bedroom. This includes separate sleeping rooms with private closets and bathrooms, shared open living/kitchen areas, and in-apartment laundry facilities. These may be designed to emulate offerings found in the local market and, as such, may be referred to as "Marketstyle" UPH.

  • Two–bedroom apartment with single occupancy per bedroom. This includes two separate sleeping rooms with private closets. Two occupants share a single bathroom (which should have two lavatories), and a small service kitchenette. This is known as a "1+1 expanded" room.

  • One–bedroom plan with a double occupancy bedroom. This includes a single sleeping/living space, a shared bathroom, and two large closets. A small service area provides minimal food preparation. This is also known as a "2+0" room. Navy and Marine Corps plans vary in some ways.

  • Two–bedroom apartment with double occupancy per bedroom (four service personnel total). This includes two separate sleeping/living spaces, one shared bathroom, four small closets, and two service areas. The bathroom may be configured to provide two showers. The service areas contain microwaves and small refrigerators. This is also known as a "2+2" room.

  • One large open area accommodating multiple beds for the sleeping/living room and an adjacent shared toilet/bathroom with gang showers. This is typically only used for recruits or in short term deployment situations. This is also known as an open bay plan.

Common Areas

The common areas are the building public spaces. In addition to basic circulation space, utility spaces, and janitor spaces, common areas may include the following:

  • Primary entrance. Some facilities may have a staffed reception area.
  • Laundry. Self-service laundry facilities are usually shared by building occupants. Some apartment-style units may have laundry facilities located in the room plan.
  • Bulk storage. Space for residents to store large, bulky items that will not fit in their rooms.
  • Mail. Space with individual mail boxes for residents. This may not be included in all UPH.
  • Multi-purpose spaces. Multi-purpose areas are for individual recreation, group activities, training, and meetings.
  • Vending area. Space for vending machines providing drinks and snacks.
  • Public toilets. Single unisex or separate male and female multi-occupancy accessible toilets may be provided adjacent to the lobby or multi-purpose spaces.
  • Administrative area/office space. There may be a need for administrative space for facility staff.
  • Gear Wash. Some facilities may have an exterior or interior area designed for gear wash.

Recreation / Community Areas

These are outdoor spaces that may include the following:

  • Sand volleyball court
  • Basketball court
  • Picnic area with grill, tables, and benches
  • Shaded structures for public gatherings

B. Design Considerations

Key design goals and considerations for UPH include the following:

Quality of Life

Providing unaccompanied military personnel with adequate, comfortable housing is a major goal and a critical element of attracting and retaining high caliber personnel. Increasing personal space, resident privacy, and additional recreational amenities are the primary goals.

Residential Character

UPH provide the war fighter a residential environment through both exterior and interior design features. This residential character can be reinforced through the following design strategies:

  • Provide gable or similar steep-sloped roof shapes.

  • Limit building height to three stories whenever feasible. When larger groupings require higher construction, consider varying the building or buildings height to introduce some residential qualities to the complex.

  • Consider design features such as room projections to create a more residential exterior appearance as opposed to flat-walled institutional elevations.

Security and Antiterrorism

As a highly-occupied facility housing military personnel, antiterrorism and security are critical design goals. In addition to complying with standard DoD criteria, UPH may require additional risk assessments to determine if additional measures are warranted. These measures may include the following:

  • Minimize the occupied parts of the building that are exposed to a blast. Locate bedrooms on an interior protected side of the building further away from a likely blast location. Locate kitchen and bath areas on the threat side of the building to act as a structural buffer for occupied bedrooms.

  • Harden the building surfaces, windows, and structure that are most vulnerable to exposure.

  • Minimize access to vulnerable areas.

  • Design and construct protective features such as balconies to absorb, withstand, and reflect the energy of a substantial blast load as defined for the established threat level.

  • Limit the use of doors and windows in high-risk areas. Consider the use of protective and resistant fenestration and glazing.


As with any multi-occupant residential facility, privacy is a key issue. The acoustical design is critical to ensure adequate noise isolation. Consider noise sources from exhaust fans, mechanical equipment, and adjacent spaces.

Provide a Durable and Maintainable Facility

These facilities will undergo heavy use and will have regular occupant turnover. Finishes should be easily cleaned and repaired and designed to endure hard use. Provide impact protection such as corner guards, as appropriate, and select quality, durable hardware. Use neutral colors for the more permanent surfaces within the facility to facilitate future changes or easy replacement.

Emerging Issues

Recognizing both the need to enhance military personnel quality of life and competition with local housing markets, some UPH are now being designed and constructed as "market style" apartments. These apartments have room patterns and floor areas similar to private sector housing in the local community. The additional cost associated with providing, in some cases, additional floor space and amenities is being offset by allowing innovative design and acquisition procedures for these projects, including using private sector construction standards. Not all Services are using this approach.

Relevant Codes and Standards

Unaccompanied Personnel Housing are DoD facilities and subject to the appropriate codes and standards defined in the Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) program. DoD uses the International Building Code with modifications as described in UFC 1-200-01 DOD Building Code (General Building Requirements). Other documents specific to UPH include the following:

Federal Agencies and Facility Criteria: