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Kokua Line

Manoa library’s rock veneer cast aside as inappropriate

    Concerns over the appearance of the exterior of the new Manoa Public Library prompted a design change, with a random-cast stone veneer removed and plastered over with cement.

Manoa residents might be wondering why work appears stalled on the new Manoa Public Library.

It turns out walls of the new two-story building just weren’t what most people envisioned, and a face lift is costing $295,000.

However, we’re told that no extra money is needed — that the $295,000 is coming basically from a cushion built into the $10.3 million construction budget for contingencies, as it is for most projects.

We reported March 9 ( that the spotted “cast rock finish” exterior was inspired by historic buildings in Manoa and other neighborhoods and that the new library building was meant to “blend seamlessly into its neighborhood.”

But as the “rocks” were applied, “there was overwhelming concern” expressed by the community, the library and state Department of Accounting and General Services over the appearance, officials told us.

“Unfortunately, earlier representations of the plaster and random cast stone veneer did not effectively convey the appearance of this finish when actually installed,” DAGS Public Works Administrator Ernest Lau and Keith Fujio, special assistant to the state librarian, said in a joint statement.

More important than the look of the building, the protruding stone veneer on the building’s interior could pose safety concerns, DAGS and library officials agreed, and on the exterior it would create “serious maintenance challenges,” such as requiring more frequent cleaning and making it more expensive to paint the building.

Lau and Fujio said that after examining a number of options, “the difficult decision” was made to remove the veneer, fill in the indentations, then plaster it all over with cement, leaving a smoother plaster finish.

Asked why it was costing so much to remove the “rocks” and apply cement, Fujio said, “It’s not quite that simple,” because steel mesh embedded into the walls had to be removed, and also “a whole lot of interior work” had to be redone.

The new library is now targeted to open in early 2012 instead of later this year. The white plaster finish should be completed in six weeks, “weather permitting.”

“It is important for the community to have a new library that they can be proud of and will enjoy for many years to come,” Lau and Fujio said.

Question: When I try to find what high school is in what neighborhood, I’m dumbfounded. We would like to move to the Salt Lake neighborhood but can’t find information on which high school is in what area. Our children would like to attend Moanalua High School but would like to live in a house and not a condo.

Answer: The easiest way to find out what the district boundaries are for public schools is to call the state Department of Education’s communications office: 586-3232.

You will be referred to the appropriate district.


Write to “Kokua Line” at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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