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UH-Hilo College of Pharmacy building now expected to be finished by July

A new permanent building for University of Hawaii at Hilo pharmacy students is facing yet another construction delay, but university officials expect the long-awaited project to be finished by next summer.

“The completion of the new building for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy has been delayed, and we are now anticipating completion and occupancy in July 2019,” said interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza.

Previously, it was anticipated construction would be done by the end of 2018.

“The reason for the delay is the addition of upgraded audio/visual technology in the building, which had previously been removed due to financial constraints,” Rapoza said.

The College of Pharmacy was able to allocate additional funding for the upgraded equipment, and the work was delayed so the rough-ins, or wiring, could be installed during construction instead of after completion, he said.

“I don’t have concerns about the delay because I believe the delay is for the right reason,” Rapoza said. “Yes, we would have liked to have the building open this spring; however, the (College of Pharmacy) had the opportunity to install and upgrade A/V equipment, and it made sense to delay and get the job done right.

“For one, we want to make sure that the A/V equipment we install lasts and is still relevant in 10-15 years, so it took a little time to do our due diligence in that respect,” he continued. “Second, at this stage in the process, walls have not been finished, so wiring and electrical installation can be performed without having to tear into or rip away walls.”

If the equipment was installed after the fact, Rapoza said installation would require opening walls up or having exposed elements for the systems, such as cables running along the wall — “two aesthetic deficiencies that should not exist in a project like this.”

The two-story, 45,000-square-foot building will consolidate student laboratories — currently housed in modular structures on UH-Hilo’s campus — faculty offices and Student Affairs under a single roof, located next door to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Since its inception more than a decade ago, the college has operated out of temporary sites while it struggled to secure funding for a permanent facility.

Lawmakers in 2014 authorized $33 million to fund the building, and after several years of delays and scaled-back budget requests the project was awarded to Isemoto Contracting Co. for $31.3 million in April 2016, with construction beginning that fall.

According to Rapoza, the additional equipment will add $1.6 million to the project budget and brings the overall cost to about $33.6 million.

Most of the College of Pharmacy will officially be housed in the new building for the next academic year and it will be ready for classes and students at the start of the fall 2019 semester, he said.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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