by Karen Rehbock
The Institute for Astronomy has facilities on the
islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, and O‘ahu.
On Friday, February 23, 2001, the University of Hawai‘i's
Institute for Astronomy (IfA) dedicated its new facility at the
Hilo Research and Technology Park. The dedication of the new building
was the culmination of over 10 years of planning and construction.
The ground breaking for the building took place on September 11,
Of the new building, University President Kenneth Mortimer said,
"The Institute for Astronomy Hilo Facility is a celebration
of the future - not just for the institute, the Big Island and the
state of Hawai‘i, but for our global community."
The state-of-the-art Hilo facility supports the Institute's telescope
operations on Mauna Kea and provides long-awaited expansion space
for its research, technology development, instrumentation, teaching,
and outreach programs. The $11 million, 35,000 square-foot, split-level
building was designed by Oda/McCarty Architects, Ltd., of Hilo and
was built by Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company.
The IfA Hilo facility is equipped with workshops and laboratories
for the development and maintenance of sci-entific instruments and
telescopes. The office space accommodates astronomers, engineers,
technicians, administrative and management staff, students, and
academic visitors. High-bandwidth fiber-optic data and video links
connect the Hilo building to IfA facilities on O‘ahu and Maui,
the telescopes on Mauna Kea, and to other astronomical institutes
around the world.
The Institute for Astronomy in Hilo will be a focal point for research
and development of astronomical instrumentation, especially large-format
focal plane array development. The new facility will cooperate with
UH Hilo and other Big Island observatory facilities to develop the
scientific and technology base in Hilo. It will directly support
the University of Hawai‘i's activities on Mauna Kea, including
the operation of the University's own telescopes and the NASA Infrared
Telescope Facility, which the University operates under a contract
This new facility also promotes much closer collaboration between
the astronomy programs of the Institute and those at UH Hilo, in
particular, the University's first Bachelor of Science in Astronomy
program, now offered by UH Hilo.
In addition to accommodating IfA personnel and programs, the new
facility also provides space for the Hilo operations of the Research
Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i, for UH Hilo astronomers,
and for other UH Hilo programs, including the Mauna Kea Astronomy
Education Center and Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikolani (the
Hawaiian Language College). Within the next few weeks, the newly
created Office of Mauna Kea Management will relocate to the new
building. All occupants will share the common resources, such as
the auditorium and meeting rooms.
The Institute for Astronomy joins the four astronomy facilities
already located in the UH Hilo Research & Technology Park. These
five facilities employ approximately 270 people . The Institute
will also be nearer to the telescope base facilities in Waimea.
IfA Hilo Associate Director Klaus Hodapp; Joe Blanco,
representing Governor Ben Cayetano; UH Regent Billy Bergin;
Big Island Mayor Harry Kim; and IfA Director Rolf Kudritzki
at the dedication ceremony.