Placement of Training Activities
The first step in setting up the base was a detailed study of the acquired land to determine the placement of the various training activities. The study concluded that the large undeveloped area generally east of Sneads Ferry Road lent itself well to infantry and artillery combat training. Antiaircraft artillery practice could be conducted from the beach, as could seacoast artillery firing at offshore targets. Boat and anti-boat guns could be fired in the New River, which varied in width from one to four miles. Both the ocean frontage and the New River shoreline provided ideal conditions for training in beach defense and landing operations of any scale, with or without supporting fire. Courthouse Bay needed to be dredged but would otherwise provide an excellent site for the main boat basin. The airfield and landing zone to be used by the parachute troops would be on the western side of the New River, along with a 10,000-man tent camp, later known as Tent Camp No. 1, for housing the 1st MarDiv until their permanent quarters were finished.

Housing and Administration
The principal housing and administration areas of the base were located at the upper end of the reservation and along the river because this area was most accessible to the existing railroad and highways, and it benefited from the breezes blowing in from the river. The eastern bank of the river between Wallace Creek and French Creek was selected for the site of the post headquarters, division headquarters, and regimental barracks groups.             

Design and Construction
Since the Navy was charged with providing civil engineering support to the Marine Corps, the Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks was tasked with planning, using Corps criteria, and contracting the construction of Marine Barracks New River. Lieutenant Colonel William Pendelton Thomason (W.P.T.) Hill, acting as Liaison Officer and also the barracks' first Commanding Officer, represented the Corps on site and maintained close contact with the Commandant via the Quartermaster. Hill and the Quartermaster, Brigadier General Seth Williams, were instrumental in the layout and design of the New River base, and much of Camp Lejeune's built environment still bears the stamp of their influence. It was Hill, for instance, who proposed the Neocolonial style of architecture that prevails at Camp Lejeune. The Bureau of Yards and Docks contracted with the Carr and J.E. Greiner Company of Durham, North Carolina, and Baltimore, Maryland, for architectural and engineering services. Construction was completed by three firms from Charlotte, North Carolina: Goode Construction Corporation; Blythe Brothers Company; and the Harrison-Wright Company.

Acquired Structures
The Marines inventoried and evaluated for potential use of the buildings and structures acquired with the land, and as a result several became temporary quarters and offices for Marine, Navy, and civilian personnel. A small number of barns and other agricultural outbuildings in good condition were used for storing equipment and supplies until facilities could be built. Buildings that were not required were either torn down or used for target practice.