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NOAA's Ford Island site hits final building phase

By William Cole


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broke ground last week on the final phase of a $330 million effort to consolidate scattered Oahu offices onto one Ford Island campus.

The new facility, on 30 acres, will be able to support more than 700 NOAA employees and features piers, marine operations and the use of a new building joining two historic hangars.

NOAA, the Navy and Walsh Construction held a groundbreaking and a Hawaiian blessing on Tuesday for the $131.1 million final phase, which includes the hangar work and new center building, creating 310,000 square feet of space.

"About six years ago, NOAA entered into a very productive relationship with the Navy in Hawaii to begin developing the new Pacific Regional Center here on historic Ford Island," said Larry Robinson, NOAA's assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management. "As the island is undergoing its own revitalization plan, it provided the ideal location for NOAA's new Pacific Regional Headquarters with deep-water berthing for vessels, sea water for scientific research, and space that can support over 700 people in the future."

Chicago-based Walsh Construction is using 500 construction workers on the final phase, which the Navy said will be finished in October 2012.

Piers, a storage facility and a ship operations facility already are finished. A marine science and storage facility are expected to be completed in 2011, the Navy said.

NOAA offices on Oahu are scattered from Hawaii Kai to Sand Island. By bringing the programs together at one facility, NOAA expects to realize increased efficiency and long-term operational savings.

The new Pacific Regional Center main facility, an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project, will include office space, a three-story sky-lit atrium, auditorium, fitness center, dining area and conference rooms.

Photovoltaic panels, a sea-water air-conditioning system, a rainwater recycling system and the use of recycled materials are expected to garner the facility the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design "gold" status.

The new campus will be home to NOAA programs including the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service; the National Ocean Service; the National Weather Service; the National Marine Fisheries Service, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Center, Marine and Aviation Operations; the International Tsunami Information Center; and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

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