UH Manoa unveils Edmondson Hall's $15 million renovations

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A recently renovated 51-year old building at UH Manoa was unveiled to the university community today.

Edmondson Hall next to Hamilton Library was completely gutted and replaced with brand-new laboratories, classrooms and offices – at the cost of $15 million.

"It generates collaborative spaces for everyone to interact in – staff, students, faculty, graduate students, post-docs, everybody," Biology Dept. Chair Dr. Steve Robinow said.

The building took 18 months to build, however was damaged following a fire back in 2006.

"We had a fire in one of the faculty offices – it was an electrical fire that occurred in the middle of the night," Robinow said. "The fire caused a flood and so we didn't just have a fire that was contained in one room - we then had a flood that impacted the third, second and first floors."

And during that time the biology department needed to move elsewhere – sending members of the department scattered across the campus.

"Our department office moved to Dean Hall. [The] faculty moved to Snyder Hall [or the Bio Medical Sciences building]," Robinow said. "We moved our students everywhere we could."


Sophomore biology major Kristen Lee was one of those students to venture through up to 12 buildings that housed biology classes last spring. She is looking forward to beginning her year in a newly renovated building dedicated to biology.

"One semester we were in Bilger and the other semester we were in a marine biology classroom so it was difficult for us to have everything that we needed," Lee said.

"I'm really excited. There's a lot of equipment that we've never seen before so I'm really excited how the professors are going to be able to use all of that for us this year."

Current John A. Burns Medical School student Victor Ruthig won't use the new facility, but remembers working in the old Edmondson Hall.

"It doesn't look like an abandoned warehouse anymore when you're in the teaching spaces and the lab areas," Ruthig said. "It's definitely very modern whereas before it was heavily dated on the outside and the inside.

"The most impressive thing I've seen is the changes and the thoughtfulness that went in to the classroom spaces – keeping section sizes small which is so important when you're in a lab."

Next up for renovation is the adjacent Snyder Hall which will house the UH Manoa Center for Life Sciences Research and Teaching.