PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (NNS) -- A blessing and dedication ceremony was held Dec. 16 to celebrate the opening of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center (IRC), on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Ford Island.
The IRC is part of NOAA's largest capital facility project to date, at $331 million, which will consolidate numerous offices currently throughout Oahu onto Ford Island. The overall project includes the IRC, completed upgrades to NOAA ship piers and operations buildings, the new Marine Science and Storage Facility and a future Child Development Center.
The contract for the IRC was awarded to Chicago-based Walsh Construction in August 2010 by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific. NAVFAC Hawaii personnel coordinated the execution of construction by working with all partners - Walsh, HOK, NOAA, and NAVFAC Pacific.
"Today is a special day in many ways, it symbolizes the completion of construction and recognizes new life and function for historic hangers 175 and 176," said Commanding Officer, NAVFAC Hawaii Capt. Michael Williamson. "It pays tribute to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, who did so much to support, preserve and modernize Ford Island."
As a devoted supporter, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye used his congressional power to aid in providing support for the project by revisiting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and using those funds towards it. The theme for the new NOAA facility is "Honoring Our Past, Protecting Our Future," a mantra that captures the principles Inouye strived for in his vision for the Pacific.
"Senator Inouye believed firmly that we should nurture the next generation of ocean stewards. He wanted the center to also be a place where children, teachers and families can connect with our dynamic planet in new and exciting ways." said Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, NOAA Administrator, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan. "There is no better start for a new chapter than the Hawaiian blessing; these are traditions that celebrate the spiritual communion of humans, nature and the universe. This will be a place that joins science, service and stewardship across the ocean, atmosphere and people of this region."
The IRC's innovative design and the implementation of sustainable energy features amplify its character, distinguishing it from other buildings on the historic Ford Island. The construction involved the renovation of two World War II era aircraft hangers - 175 and 176 and an addition of a third infill building between them to create a world-class unified Federal facility that will house approximately 700 NOAA personnel in 310,000 square feet.
Upon entering the premises of the structure, it is clear to see the historical impact of the aircraft hangers and native Hawaiian culture guided inspiration towards creating a suitable environment to represent NOAA. San Francisco-based architecture firm, HOK, brought new life to the building while managing to maintain sensitivity to the historical and cultural aspects. Among the most notable sustainable features operating within the facility include: a revolutionary Passive Cooling Unit (PCU) system, gray and rain water system, and a skylight diffuser system, all of which have been installed to reduce energy costs and contribute to modernizing the building.
The facility is complete with Hawaii's first PCU system which uses chilled water from nearby Building 130 and natural circulation to provide proper conditioning throughout the structure. Rather than using traditional air handling units, PCUs draw on trade winds to provide full conditioning by converting air from outside into cool air and distributing it throughout the entire building through an underground air distribution system.
The addition a gray water capturing system reinforces a commitment to recycling. This modern method will direct stored rainwater, rather than freshwater, to the lavatory toilets. Water collected from the facility's laboratory and excess water from condensation of the building's chilled water lines will irrigate area landscaping.
A natural lighting solution, carried out by a skylight diffuser system and chandelier light structures, will provide light energy by evenly distributing natural light that entering the diffuser, and avoiding an harsh direct lighting while reducing artificial lighting and energy costs.
These energy solutions, among others, have earned this facility a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification. This official certification recognizes the IRC as a sustainable structure. The U.S. Green Building Council determines certification upon a rating system and set of requirements that assesses design, construction, and maintenance structures. The building has achieved a 50 percent energy savings by implementing low impact construction practices.
At the entrance of the IRC a three story high atrium comprised of photographs, high tech exhibits and a diverse range of displays are strategically placed to inform visitors about NOAA's mission-supported activities in the Pacific region. Enlarged photographs of marine life elegantly decorate the walls, and natural sunlight emitted from the ceiling illuminates these images.
Many unique landscaping design elements have been incorporated around the IRC including water resistant Hawaiian plants. There are also large areas for NOAA personnel to gather outdoors and enjoy the facility's unique location on Ford Island.
"This center represents the vital Hawaiian value of respect for our past and building our future, it is by building on the foundation laid by our forbearers that we know our efforts last." said U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. "It is by looking forward towards the future that we know our contributions will be meaningful."
The various NOAA offices from throughout Oahu are scheduled to relocate to this facility between January and April 2014.