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The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s state-of-the-art Life Sciences Building, the university’s first major design-build project completed in 2020, was recently honored with a statewide commercial real estate award.

Project leaders accepted the nonprofit project award, which was presented at the 25th annual Kukulu Hale Awards on May 6 at The Royal Hawaiian. The awards are hosted annually by NAIOP Hawaiʻi, the local chapter of the nation’s leading organization for developers, owners and investors of office, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate.

clear glass award

The $65 million, three-story facility is home to the College of Natural Sciences’ School of Life Sciences and the Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC), which operates one of two transmission electron microscopes in the state (the UH Mānoa Advanced Electron Microscopy Center operates the second). With 21 state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories, it was built to serve more than 500 students daily and support world class research. The building also features a 600-square-foot student collaboration area, 52 graduate student workstations, five conference rooms and 28 faculty offices.

A design-build project means that a single contract was created for the design and construction with a fixed cost. Design-build projects are more likely to be completed on time and with fewer cost overruns, compared to the typical design-bid-build process.

Seth Siaki from the UH Office of Project Delivery was the project manager and accepted the award alongside the design firm G70 and general contractor Layton Construction Company.

“The Life Sciences Building is an awesome project that proves the university has amazing employees that makes it possible to execute complex projects,” Siaki said. “Our in-house experts in the department of COPF (Campus Operations and Facilities) supporting the Office of Project Delivery with this project was paramount. All the hard work by the university, the School of Life Sciences, PBRC, the contractor and the designers helped make the Life Sciences Building a success for the campus.”

The jurors’ statement read, “The design team clearly met the owner’s project goals by consolidating previously spread out life sciences departments into one location. The 76,000 SF (square foot) building is unique for a science building, as it provides gathering spaces and open plazas for students to gather.”

The UH Office of Project Delivery is responsible for just about every major capital improvement project for the 10-campus UH System, including the Life Sciences Building. The office was completely transformed after David Lassner became UH president adopting industry best practices, implementing a new project management system and centralized online system for issuing solicitations and receiving proposals or bids and assembling a team of experienced construction professionals to manage projects.

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This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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