Exclusive: UH West Oahu gearing up for grand opening

KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Kaitlin Kogachi

With school just around the corner, the University of Hawaii West Oahu campus is gearing up for the start of the school year.

The UH West Oahu students are currently taking their classes in Pearl City. The new campus is a real treat for the students, considering they have been sharing Leeward Community College's space for more than 30 years now. The facilities are spread across 500 acres in Kapolei. The campus will feature brand new furniture and equipment and state-of-the-art technology.

The staff have high hopes that the new campus will serve Kapolei and the outlying communities well. "Kapolei is a very big, growing region, and we think there's definitely a great need to have a four-year institution in the region," said Kalowena Komeiji, Director of Communications for UH West Oahu. "So we're hopeful that students from the Leeward coast to Mililani, the North Shore, as well as Pearl City and Ewa will look at UH West Oahu as their campus."

UH West Oahu plans to have five of the six buildings part of phase one completed by the middle of August.The five buildings include classroom, laboratory, library, campus center, and maintenance and mechanical. The campus center will serve as the students' one-stop destination for all their needs and feature dining, bookstore, credit union, and student services. Construction on the administrative building has not begun yet.

John Hara, a local architect who is well-known for constructing major projects including Punahou School's Case Middle School, designed the buildings with natural resources and sustainability in mind. The large windows take advantage of natural sunlight to keep electricity costs down. The open hallways and high ceilings allow for better air circulation and limit air conditioning use by having tradewind breezes flow through the buildings. Custom-made concrete blocks were used to construct the buildings to act as natural insulation to keep heat out. Furthermore, the campus will have its own photovoltaic farm to further lower energy costs.

The UH West Oahu campus will be open for the upcoming fall semester, beginning on August 20. About 2,000 students, including more than 250 incoming freshmen, are expected to attend the new campus.

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