The Kamehameha Kapalama Campus is a private school that dates from the nineteenth-century and is a highly respected and influential entity in the Hawaiian Islands. A key part of the school’s mandate is to promote Native language and culture among Hawaiian youth. The Kapalama Strategic Redevelopment Project, and in particular a landmark cultural center, will further this lofty goal. A new middle school, incorporating open classrooms, cafeteria, and a band hall, creates a modern learning environment.
LESSONS IN ADVANCED CONSTRUCTION
The multiphase project consists of the Koaia Athletics Facility, middle school and administrative building, school dormitories and fitness center, a parking garage, and the Kaiwakiloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center. The new buildings, with their three sets of architects, engineers, and consultants, vary one from another and use differing blends of structural components.
A hand-carved Ohia log is suspended in the
Kaiwakiloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center, and four
Ohia log posts are located at the corners of the building.
The Koaia Athletics Facility houses a gym, laundry,
general offices, and locker rooms.
“This diversity made for many great learning opportunities for the whole team,” said project manager Patrick Webber. “One project that comprised 100% precast members used building information modeling to ‘virtually’ construct the building before the first precast concrete member was ever fabricated.”
The islands’ volcanic history can create poor soil conditions for building, and the geology seems, at times, to have a mind of its own: “Where we don’t want dirt, we have dirt,” said Webber. “And where we don’t want rock, we have rock.”
"Non-typical multi-building projects on sloping sites in an operating school campus are about as challenging as they come," said NordicPCL Hawaii president Glen Kaneshige in an interview with Building Industry magazine. "Careful planning and execution of the work are critical. There can never be enough diligence with respect to safety in this kind of environment."
BLESSINGS AND HARDHATS
A sense of cultural purpose that rests on centuries of traditional spirituality pervades the site. Blessings were performed by the Kahu, a Hawaiian priest, at various stages of construction. Blessings were sometimes repeated when challenges arose, such as when the team found rock where it wasn’t expected. Before the finishes were complete inside the school, students, accompanied by the Kahu and members of the project team, wrote scriptures on the classroom walls. The sacred texts were then hidden when white boards were put in place, and will be there for future generations to discover.