USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL VISITOR CENTER
STAR-BULLETIN FILE / 1996
The USS Arizona Memorial spans the warship's hulk in Pearl Harbor. A new USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center is being planned. CLICK FOR LARGE
USS Arizona center expanding 'gateway' to history
The two-year, $38 million redesign promises a more spacious, security-conscious attraction
THE National Park Service officially unveils its plans for a new Arizona Memorial Visitor Center today with assurances that the popular tourism attraction will remain open during more than two years of noisy, dusty construction.
Piles will be driven down 140 to 200 feet to ensure that the new structures do not sink into the soil, the fate of the current building, which opened in 1980 on land filled from dredging.
"There will be dust," said Jonathan Jarvis, the park service's western regional director. "There will be disturbance."
The $38 million construction project also will make concessions to the post-Sept. 11, 2001, environment, with buildings set back from the Pearl Harbor waterfront and the parking area as a precaution against attacks by boat or car bomb.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jonathan Jarvis, National Park Service regional director, left, with Tom Fake, discussed the new Arizona Memorial Visitor Center yesterday. CLICK FOR LARGE
There are no reasonable defenses against an attack by a small plane, Jarvis conceded, but he noted that the glass in the new main building and classrooms will be blast-resistant.
The Pearl Harbor landmark ranks among the top U.S. symbolic sites, along with the Statue of Liberty and government buildings in Washington, D.C. With an average daily visitor count of 4,100, it would presumably be a lucrative target for terror.
Security precautions now in place regarding purses, camera cases, knapsacks and packages will continue during and after construction, park service officials said.
Perhaps as important to visitors, the number of toilet stalls will increase from the current 22 (12 for men and 10 for women) to 35 (10 each in the theater building and 15 more out by the security entrance).
In a news conference scheduled for 10 a.m. today at the Visitor Center, Jarvis and other officials will present a schematic drawing of the new facility, designed as a "gateway" not just to the USS Arizona Memorial, but also to the battleship Missouri, Bowfin submarine and Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island.
An environmental assessment will be issued in the next few weeks, followed by bid solicitations this summer.
Construction is scheduled to begin this fall, with a completion date of Dec. 7, 2009, the 68th anniversary of the Japanese attack that plunged the United States into World War II.
Jarvis said the design is spacious and environmentally conscious, with an emphasis on open-air structures in which only the display cases with artifacts are climate-controlled.
Meeting with the Star-Bulletin editorial staff yesterday, Jarvis said the new facility will handle crowds more fluidly and promote better reflection on the tides of history.
"We don't want this to be an architectural statement, because the statement is out here," he said, tapping a pencil on a schematic drawing of Pearl Harbor, "at the Arizona."