Additional $11.8 Million in Federal Funds Appropriated for MKAEC

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
George Jacob, (808) 933-3917
MKAEC Project Director
Posted: Aug 30, 2002

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo's Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center (MKAEC) project recently received an appropriation of $11.862 million in federal funds, announced Project Director George Jacob. The appropriation covers over 80 percent of the estimated design and construction costs.

The selection of Taisei Construction Corporation, Durrant Media Five and Hilo-based Oda-McCarty Architects toward design-build services for the $28 million world-class interpretive center was announced earlier this month.

Taisei Construction Corporation and their partners have been involved with an array of large and medium sized projects, including the Tokyo Stadium, Sapporo Dome, Tama Rokutu Science Center, Shinjuku Kyouiku Center, Fureai Science Center and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and in Hawaiʻi, the Bishop Museum Science Center, Wainaku Executive Center, UH Hilo Student Housing and Subaru Telescope's base facility.

"There are many moving parts to this effort and seven teams will be working on different aspects of this complex project to bring MKAEC to fruition," Jacob said. "Designing a facility that is culturally sensitive, academically sound and visually stunning in line with the institutional mission is vital to the visitor experience.

"MKAEC will showcase the coming together of science and culture as never before attempted in the United States, in a compelling story of human exploration, perseverance and ingenuity in mankind's relentless pursuit of knowledge as it sets sail on a fascinating journey of discovery," he added.

The MKAEC is tentatively scheduled to open in early 2005 in the University Park of Science and Technology and will serve as a premier interpretive facility for the world's largest and finest collection of operational astronomical observatories. The 42,000-square-foot Center will include 25,000-square-feet of gallery space, classrooms, and will serve as a central outreach office for UH Hilo. MKAEC hopes to attract over 250,000 visitors annually, creating a sizeable impact on tourism economy in the State.

"Clad in titanium skin, the energy efficient building will blend in elements of science and culture", said MKAEC Construction Manager Bill DeMent.

Senator Daniel Inouye had initiated the procurement of federal funds for creating a landmark institution on the Big Island. Additional federal funding from NASA is also being released toward exhibition design, planetarium, omni-projection theatre and specialized equipment procurement.