New UH Cancer Center must replace windows, deal with wet, slippery lanais

UH Cancer Center Construction Problems

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three months after the official opening of the University of Hawaii's Cancer Center in Kakaako, Hawaii News Now brought a construction problem and potential design flaw to the attention of its director.

The UH Cancer Center cuts a striking figure in Kakaako, a six-story building that was completed three months early and 13 percent under budget.  Total cost: $104 million.

Dr. Michele Carbone -- the center's director -- showed Hawaii News Now around the facility Friday.

"Today I think that we can say that the best cancer center building in the country is right here in Hawaii, built by Hawaiians," Carbone said, praising the design of Honolulu architect Jeff Nakamura, who he said poured his heart into the project.

Just three months after its official grand opening in February, the building has suffered from construction flaws.  At least six to a dozen windows will have to be replaced.

Carbone did not know about the problem when Hawaii News Now asked about it, so he asked his aide to explain.

"Some of the wood paneling, actually not the glass itself, is showing these unusual blemishes.  So they're testing it," said Kerry Kakazu, special assistant to the Cancer Center's director. "They're probably going to replace it.  But performance-wise, it's doing its job.  The blemishing is mostly cosmetic."

Kakazu said the extent of the wood paneling problems in the windows is not yet clear but that's all covered by a one-year warranty. Contractor AC Kobayashi will pay for repairs, not UH, Kakazu said.  He said the laminate is coming off some of the paneling and there are also problems with caulking around some windows.

Kakazu said electricity lines have needed power boosts to handle refrigeration and freezer units in some labs.  Those are among the items on what's called a "punch list" of items that need to be fixed after construction has concluded, he said.

Another problem involves open-air lanais that are unprotected from the elements.  On windy, rainy days, the outside hallways can get wet with rain water and one center employee has already fallen and filed a claim.

Here's an exchange between Hawaii News Now's Keoki Kerr and Carbone:

Kerr: When it rains and it's windy, it gets wet on the floors and somebody already fell and hurt themselves and filed a claim.

Carbone: I hope not, Kerry, do you know anything about this?

Kerr: You don't know anything about that?

Carbone: No, never heard of it.

Once again, Carbone had his assistant explain the situation.

"Our janitors are very good about putting up signs and trying to keep it dry,"
 Kakazu said.  So again, it's one of those things you don't know until you design and actually complete it.  So there are some wet walkways, but the janitors are usually right on top of that."

Standing along the railing of an open air hallway, Carbone said, "The only place where it can get wet a little bit is right here.  On the other hand, it was a kind of a balance, OK?  You want to have a building here that you could place in Chicago or you want to have something that's Hawaiian."

Carbone said architect Nakamura did a "fantastic job" designing the building, which incorporates Hawaiian cultural elements and an environmentally sustainable and cost-efficient design.

"This is a unique place.  And so he (Nakamura) wanted, I wanted to have an open space, as much as possible so that people can enjoy the open things.  Of course, when you enjoy the open thing, sometime you can get wet.  You're not going to rust if you get wet a little bit," Carbone said.

Carbone added that problems are examples of typical adjustments to new facilities and should not dampen the enthusiasm over a beautiful new building.

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