STAR-BULLETIN / OCTOBER 2007
Workers from Hawaii Restorative Services vacuumed up excess water in Edmondson Hall on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus last October.
UH backs off renovation of 2 science buildings
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University of Hawaii at Manoa officials say it's just too expensive to follow the recommendation of consultants to gut and remodel Edmondson and Snyder halls, which house classrooms, offices and lab space.
The consultants, hired after an October 2007 fire led to the shutdown of Edmondson for safety reasons, estimated it would cost $77.5 million to completely remodel both buildings. Instead, the university is looking at a cheaper alternative to spend $10 million on electrical, air conditioning and other improvements to Edmondson.
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Sheila Conant, chairwoman of the zoology department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, says Edmondson and Snyder halls need extensive remodeling.
Downsizing UH renovation plans
A consultant's report looked at the costs of three options for Edmondson and Snyder halls. But the University of Hawaii at Manoa chose a cheaper option:
Option One: Renovate the existing buildings -- cost $75.5 million
Option Two: Renovate the existing building and turn Edmondson into classroom and offices and Snyder into a lab building -- cost $77.5 million
Option Three: Tear down both buildings and build new classroom and lab buildings -- cost $90.4 million
UH alternative: Spend $10 million to $25 million to upgrade electrical, air conditioning and mechanical systems of just Edmondson or both buildings.
"If Edmondson is going to be the home for some of the life-science faculty and students, I would like to see more than just rewiring and central air conditioning," Conant said yesterday. "I would like to see modern teaching laboratories and high quality research laboratories. The students deserve it. Right now we don't even have good classrooms for them."
After reviewing a May 30 report, university officials decided they do not have the estimated $77.5 million to follow the recommendation of consultants Group 70 International and gut and remodel both buildings and make separate laboratory and classroom buildings.
Instead, the university is looking to spend about $10 million on electrical, air conditioning and other repairs to make the buildings safe and more energy efficient, said David Hafner, UH-Manoa assistant vice chancellor for campus services.
After an Oct. 20 fire at Edmondson, UH-Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw announced the building would be shut down until it could be remodeled. The university hired consultants under a $150,000 contract to determine whether Edmondson and next door Snyder Hall should be remodeled or demolished and replaced.
Both buildings are about 47 years old and, according to the consultants' report, "the majority of the existing mechanical and electrical distribution systems are original 1961 construction."
Hafner said the problems at Edmondson and Snyder are "a stark confirmation of our concerns that running UH is going to be really expensive."
Hafner said university administrators are having to make tough decisions to deal with an estimated $242.8 million backlog in needed repairs.
The university is in the midst of planning a six-year budget and trying to prioritize what needs to be fixed.
"It's problematic what will happen in the future given the state's economy," Hafner said. "It (repairs and remodeling Edmondson) is going to have to be less than what was recommended."
Edmondson, originally built to be a classroom building, housed zoology department labs, offices and classrooms. Snyder Hall, which was designed as a lab building, also has office and classroom space.
The Group 70 report found both buildings are structurally sound and recommended they be gutted and upgraded to meet current safety and building codes, including installing fire sprinkler systems, upgrading the ventilation and air-conditioning systems for energy efficiency and separating the laboratory, office and classroom uses.
The report estimated it would cost $90 million to tear down the existing structures and build a new building.