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NOAA Pacific Region Center, Ford Island, Hawaii: Innovative, Collaborative Design and Delivery Methods

Sandra Mendler, AIA, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum
Joe Ferraro, AIA, Ferraro Choi and Associates
John Shanahan, AICP, NOAA
Gary Yamagata, NAVFAC Pacific

The NOAA Pacific Region Center will accommodate diverse science requirements including Fisheries Management, Marine Mammal Protection, Oceanographic Research, and Weather Services including the International Tsunami Warning Center. This 370,000 square foot facility will consolidate programs into a regional center that will enhance efficiencies while facilitating collaboration and enhancing partnering within NOAA internationally and with allied groups.

The facility involves adaptive reuse of historic WWII aircraft hangars and new construction on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The goal is to be LEED™ gold with 50 percent energy and water use reduction at a minimum. Strategies are being evaluated to reach the ultimate goal to be energy neutral on an annual basis while having a net positive impact on the local site conditions. Sustainable design solutions are being developed in response to the unique project conditions including marine research, coastal environment, hot humid climate, island location, ATFP security requirements, and historic architecture. Cost and value is being analyzed carefully as the following strategies are evaluated:

  • Mixed mode ventilation
  • Operable windows
  • Building integrated PV
  • Solar hot water
  • Extensive building re-use
  • Innovative daylighting strategies
  • Efficient "right sized" laboratory systems
  • Seawater cooling system
  • Greywater re-use
  • Green materials
  • Bioswales for natural stormwater management
  • Native plantings
  • Remediation of site contamination

This presentation will highlight the innovative design strategies under development however the primary focus will be on design process and collaboration including:

  • Design partnerships (HOK and Ferraro Choi)
  • Inter-agency collaboration (NOAA and NAVFAC)
  • Utility partnerships
  • Local government partnerships

The presentation will describe how design process challenges have become strategic assets for the development of this high-performance laboratory workplace, and will outline the specific strategies for success including: visioning, team building, design workshops, information management, pro-active budgeting, life-cycle costing, constructability and maintainability reviews, and integrated commissioning.


Sandra Mendler, AIA, is a vice president in HOK's San Francisco office and director of the Science + Technology Group for the Northwest Region. She received her BA in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and her B.Arch. from Pratt Institute in NY and worked in New York City for ten years. In 1991 she joined HOK's Washington DC office. While there she was involved in many federal projects including the new EPA Campus in RTP North Carolina. In 2001 she moved to the Bay Area to join HOK San Francisco.

Ms. Mendler is a nationally recognized, award winning sustainable design leader. She has received the inaugural 2001 "Sustainable Design Leadership Award" from IIDA and Collins and Aikman and the 1998 "Environmental Sensitivity Award" from the Construction Specifiers Institute. Interiors & Sources magazine selected Sandy in its list of 24 Environmental Champions for 2004. Sandy co-authored The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design and is lead author of The Greening Curve, Lessons Learned in the Design of the EPA Campus. She served as the 2000/2001 chair for the national Committee on the Environment (COTE) for the American Institute of Architects and is a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Green Building Council.

As Sustainable Design Principal, she has led the design effort for numerous high profile sustainable design showcase projects. Three of her projects, the National Wildlife Federation Headquarters, the World Resources Institute Offices and the Nidus Center Lab, have been selected by the AIA COTE as Top Ten Green Buildings of the Year.

Joe Ferraro, AIA is a partner at Ferraro Choi And Associates, a mid-sized Architectural firm located in downtown Honolulu. He received his BFA in interior design from Pratt Institute in 1971 and worked in New York City for 11 years. In 1982 he moved to Hawaii and attended the University of Hawaii School of Architecture. He co-founded Ferraro Choi And Associates, an architectural firm specializing in Sustainable "Green" Architecture and Interior Architecture, with Gerald Choi in 1988. He currently holds architectural registrations in Hawaii and New York and is an accredited LEED™ Green Building Council professional.

Joe has been a board member of the Honolulu Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and is currently serving on the board of the AIA's Hawaii State Council and the Hawaii Architectural Foundation. He currently serves as an architectural advisor to the board of Malama O Manoa, a neighborhood community organization. Joe is author and co-author of several research papers on sustainable design, planning, and design for research facilities in the Antarctic. He has been a panelist and speaker at the EPA's Laboratories for the 21st Century on three occasions.

Since 1984, Joe has worked on the design of projects for the National Science Foundation in Antarctica. He was project architect for the 45,000 square foot Crary Science and Technology Laboratory at McMurdo Station. In 1992 his firm was selected to head the design for the replacement of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, a $200,000,000 project at the bottom of the earth. Ferraro Choi is currently working on research projects for the, the USDA's Forestry Service Laboratory in Hilo, and the Hawaii Natural Energy Laboratory (NELHA) Gateway Distributive Energy Center in Kailua Kona. The NELHA project is designed to be a LEED™ Platinum building.

Ferraro Choi is also the designer of the offices of the AIA Honolulu, a LEED™ for Commercial Interiors pilot program project. The project was the recipient of AIA design and sustainable design awards and the Mayor's Choice award for its sustainable design.

John Shanahan is a senior Federal manager currently serving as senior project manager for the planning, design and construction of NOAA's largest new facility, the Pacific Region Center complex to be located on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, HI. He combines training in economics, architecture and urban planning with project and program management skills and an extensive record of public and private sector construction management experience. Mr. Shanahan reports directly to NOAA's chief administrative officer and manages a team of construction professionals in Silver Spring, Seattle and Honolulu to lead the development of this new consolidated facility.

John received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics, from University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas, and a Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Planning with honors from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. His professional experiences include planning, site acquisition, real estate transactions, engineering, public financing and commercial parcel sales for US Home Corporation in Texas and for Petracca Construction in New York. He has also worked as a planner and programmer for CRSS in Houston, and for the City of Brownsville, Texas developing an Urban Master Plan Update, Transportation Plan, and Downtown Redevelopment Plan. Prior to joining NOAA, John managed the design and construction of many large complex facilities for the NYC Department of Corrections.


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