UH Maui College celebrates start of new science building

July 29, 2010, 6:46 AM HST · Updated July 29, 6:46 AM
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The University of Hawaii Maui College broke ground yesterday on a new science building for the Kahului campus.  The updated science building will include a full array of photovoltaic cells and wind turbines that are projected to provide up to 30 percent of the power used in the 42,000 square foot structure. 

George Kaya, Maui liaison for Gov. Linda Lingle, opened the groundbreaking ceremony for the new building on Wednesday (July 28) with a comment that bids came in low and allowed a list of optional add-ons to be part of the structure.

With a pule led by Kahu J. Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier, UHMC Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto, state legislators and other officials prepare for a formal groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, starting construction of a new $25 million science building at the University of Hawai`i Maui College campus. The building site is alongside the Heona arts and crafts facility, an area used as an unpaved parking lot.

The new Science building will be a single-story structure incorporating LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) elements to reduce energy and operations costs.

Bruce Butler, chair of the Science, Technology, Electronics and Mathematics Department at UHMC, describes his excitement at finally seeing work begin on a new science building at the Kahului campus. Butler spoke at the `Ike Le`a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.

“The idea of that building standing there will be like a dream come true to me,” said Butler, chairman of the Science, Technologies, Electronics and Mathematics Department at the University of Hawaii Maui College. 

He said he envisioned the need for an updated science building when he first arrived on campus more than 20 years ago.  At the time, the college was in the early stages of expanding its educational offerings in career fields of health services, computer science and engineering technology.

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There was a science building already in place, but it was old, had a leaky roof and lacked the lab facilities needed for students to engage in practical applications of the knowledge presented in a lecture hall. In its place, Butler said he and Physical Science Professor John Pye spent years discussing the needs in a new building.

“After all the years spent planning and discussing what we need, this will have all the things a scientist would want in a science building,” he said.

Butler joined Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto and Kaya in giving credit to the late Maui Rep. Bob Nakasone for the budget allocation.  Nakasone, who died last year after a long battle with cancer, was represented at the groundbreaking by his wife Ruth Nakasone, daughter Joni McGinnis and son-in-law Kelly McGinnis. Sakamoto announced a portrait of Nakasone created by Maui artist Tonia Baney would be displayed in the new building.

Architect Vernon Inoshita, president of Design Partners Inc., said the building will be fully LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, with design elements expected to reduce energy demands by 30 percent, compared to similar classroom-laboratory buildings.

In addition to a lecture hall and classroom, the new building – named `Ike Le`a (See Clearly) – will have seven lab spaces and a detached observatory facility equipped with a small telescope but also with capabilities to access digital images from observatories on the Haleakala summit.

Sakamoto emphasized the support of Maui’s legislative delegation as well as Lingle in providing the allocation need to move the project ahead. 

“Political leadership is very important in supporting the interests of higher education,” he said in introducing state Sens. Shan Tsutsui and Roz Baker as well as Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran among the invited guests who had a role in getting the building funds.

Construction is expected to take 22 months, with completion expected in Spring 2012.

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