MKAEC taking shape

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Date: Wednesday, August 4, 2004
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

The concrete tilt-up walls are braced while steel erection for the Mauna Kea Astronomy Center begins.

Construction of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center is going on at a brisk pace, according to MKAEC Construction Manager Bill DeMent.

"We've only had eight days of rainout since February and for Hilo, that's pretty spectacular," he said. "We've put up walls in the past week."

DeMent said that the walls of the 40,000-square-foot interpretive center-in-progress at the University Park of Science and Technology in Hilo are tilt-up panels.

"There's not a lot of this type of construction on the Big Island," he explained. "The panels are pre-fabricated right here on site, so they don't have to put plywood up 28 feet into the sky. It's a lot easier to just bring a crane in and tilt them up after they've hardened."

DeMent said there would be a lot of steel work done in the next week, noting "it's definitely starting to look like a building now."

The $28 million Center, which will feature hands-on and interactive exhibits highlighting the Polynesian tradition of celestial navigation and ongoing astronomical discoveries atop Mauna Kea, is scheduled to open in late 2005. It will also feature a 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall, multi-purpose planetarium, classrooms, a restaurant with a panoramic view and a gift shop.

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