UH Hilo pharmacy building wins award for culturally inspired design

The 45,000-square foot, two-story structure completed in December 2019, received an award from NAIOP Hawai‘i Commercial Real Estate Association in the public/government project category.

Aerial of pharmacy college and three insets of interior.
Oʻahu-based firm WCIT Architecture incorporated Hawaiian culture and themes into the UH Hilo pharmacy college building’s modern design—from the undulating roof line that represents the goddess Pele and her land-shaping lava flows, to the interior floor-to-ceiling murals that depict the blending of traditional and contemporary healing practices. (WCIT Architecture)

Hale Kīho‘iho‘i, the new home of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, earned recognition at the 25th annual Kukulu Hale Awards, which recognizes excellence in Hawaiʻi’s commercial real estate industry.

The 45,000-square foot, two-story structure completed in December 2019, received an award from NAIOP Hawai‘i Commercial Real Estate Association in the public/government project category. Hale Kiho‘iho‘i houses lecture halls, pharmacy compounding laboratories, simulated pharmacy practice skills and dispensing labs, and innovative meeting rooms and spaces for the college.

Miriam Mobley Smith pictured
Miriam Mobley Smith

“With its wonderful open design, Hale Kīho‘iho‘i is a very welcoming place that provides so many great spaces for learning, research and educational collaboration,” says Miriam Mobley Smith, interim dean at the pharmacy college. “The structure also represents a significant commitment and investment by the State of Hawai‘i in the university and the education of healthcare professionals.”

In ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language), kīho‘iho‘i refers to the quick restoration of land after a lava flow. According to Hawaiian naming protocol, everything coming from this new building, and the college it houses, is intended to promote restoration of Hawai‘i’s natural environment and its people.

O‘ahu-based firm WCIT Architecture incorporated Hawaiian culture and themes into the building’s modern design—from the undulating roof line that represents the goddess Pele and her land-shaping lava flows, to the interior floor-to-ceiling murals that depict the blending of traditional and contemporary healing practices. The building’s design also followed LEED principles that required environmentally friendly materials and building practices.

Hilo-based Isemoto Contracting served as general contractor on the three-year building project, which is located above the main UH Hilo campus, and overlooks Hilo town and the bay.

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