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Door replacement delays opening of campus building

  • COURTESY UH HILO
    The $15.9 million Student Services Building was initially scheduled to open in 2012.
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HILO >> The opening of a new Student Services Building at the University of Hawaii at Hilo was delayed by about one year by last-minute changes to 23 doors in the facility, university officials said.

Jerry Chang, director of university relations, said doors in the building were replaced to conform to changes in guidelines accompanying the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

“The changes had to do with the weight of the doors and the pressure that has to be applied to open them,” he wrote in an email. “The standard for accessibility is that if a person were in a wheelchair, had a physical disability or otherwise mobility impaired, that she/he could still enter the offices.”

Before construction, plans and technical specifications had been submitted to the state Disability and Communication Access Board and were compliant with 1991 guidelines. ADA requirements for the doors were changed as the building was constructed.

“When it was discovered that the opening door force required was in excess of 5 pounds, we could choose to change the doors to the new 2011 ADA Guidelines or leave them as compliant under the 1991 ADA Guidelines which were in effect when the building was built, and as allowed under the rules governing construction,” Chang said.

The heavy doors would have made access difficult for students with disabilities, he said.

“A decision was made to be proactive and lean on the side of caution and replace the doors, to be in complete compliance with the new ADA regulations,” he said.

The additional cost was covered under provisions of the construction contract, he said.

Staff members will begin moving in Thursday.

The building originally was to open in fall 2013.The door changes caused the delay, Luoluo Hong, former vice chancellor for student affairs, said in an email earlier this year.

The $18 million, 35,000-square-foot, three-story building will house the vice chancellor, the dean of students offices, admissions, the registrar, as well as financial aid, advising, career-development, disability and health-promotion services.

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