Groundbreaking for Institute for Astronomy Hilo Facility

For Immediate Release, September 10, 1998

Contacts:  Dr. Robert McLaren  808-956-8566
           Ms. Karen Rehbock   808-956-8566

Groundbreaking ceremonies will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Friday September 11 for the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy (IfA) Facility on the UH Hilo Campus. The IfA Hilo Facility will be a state-of-the-art operations base for the institute's activities on Mauna Kea and will also provide long-awaited expansion space for the institute's research, instrumentation, teaching and outreach program. The $11 million 35,000 square-foot split-level building, designed by Oda/McCarty Architects, Ltd., of Hilo will be situated on a 3.5 acre parcel at the north end of UH Hilo University Park.

The IfA Hilo Facility will have excellent shop and lab space for both observatory operations support and for instrument development, together with office space for astronomers, engineers, technicians and administrative support staff. The facility will be equipped with a high-bandwidth fiber-optic link to the telescopes on Mauna Kea for remote observing.

After the building is completed, in fall 1999, the first occupants will be the thirty or so Institute employees already stationed at various locations in Hilo. Subsequently, additional personnel will join them, some who will transfer from the Institute's current facility in Manoa and some who will be new hires. The building is designed to accommodate about 70 employees. It is expected that this major decentralization and expansion of the Institute's activities will take several years.

This new facility will also promote 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.

Scheduled participants in the groundbreaking ceremony include Governor Benjamin Cayetano, Lt. Governor Mazie Hirono, UH President Kenneth Mortimer, UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng and IfA Interim Director Robert McLaren, along with members of the UH Board of Regents and representatives of State and County government.

NOTE: A color RGB file of the architectural rendering of the facility is available at: