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Balancing Sustainable Design and Historic Preservation for NOAA’s Pacific Headquarters

NOAA Pacific Regional Center

HOK’s Paul Woolford and WSP’s Todd See coauthored an article for High Performing Buildings magazine on transforming two WWII-era aircraft hangars into a new Pacific headquarters for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Woolford, senior vice president and design principal in HOK’s San Francisco office, describes how the team’s design of the Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center created a high-performance workplace through features including an indoor-outdoor campus approach, bioinspired building systems and a hydronic passive cooling system.

Excerpted from High Performing Buildings:

Nature inspired the transformation of twin World War II-era airplane hangars in Hawaii into a high-performance office headquarters.

The hangars, which narrowly escaped destruction in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, have recently been reimagined, stripped to their bones, restored, and linked by a new steel-and-glass pavilion to create a high-tech, environmentally sensitive research, educational and office campus.

The new Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center consolidates 715 employees who had been spread out among multiple Oahu locations. The campus supports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which monitors the Pacific Region’s climate, weather, oceans and coasts.

Designed through the twin lenses of sustainability and historic preservation, the Inouye Regional Center demonstrates contextual, high-performance solutions to modern design challenges. The sustainable approach created an attractive, healthy space that makes people want to come to work.

The adaptive reuse of the hangars and sustainable design features led to both cost and operational savings for NOAA. Construction costs for the new Pacific headquarters came in at $435 per square foot. By comparison, the cost to construct a typical research and administration building averages between $500 and $750 per square foot.

Meanwhile, the consolidation into the new space saves NOAA approximately $3 million per year in operational costs, $415,000 in energy costs (the energy model predicts 32.7% cost reduction below the ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 energy code) and $8,300 in water costs.

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