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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

City authorizes $80,000 to lower Hanauma roof

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser City Hall Reporter

The city has told the contractor working on the Hanauma Bay education center to spend as much as $80,000 to lower the height of the building by five feet so that it won't be visible from the beach below.

Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris yesterday said the architect's changes will make the project invisible from the beach as originally promised.

"We made a commitment to the community that the project at Hanauma Bay was going to be one returning the bay to a nature center and that the improvements were going to be hidden, underground basically," Harris said.

Managing Director Ben Lee said the contractor expects to be able to make the changes at little additional cost.

The floor will be lowered by a foot, and the building will still have 11-foot ceilings, he said.

Because the construction began in April, Lee said the city was able to note the need for a change early and help keep costs down.

"If there's a time to make a revision, this is the time," Lee said.

Harris said people looking up from the beach would have seen five feet of rock designed to help camouflage the building in a natural way. Now, that will be lowered to blend it better into the grassy bern design of the center.

"What you'll look up at is not a five-foot rocky outcrop but you'll look up at a grassy knoll that comes down into rocks," Harris said, so the highest point will be 14 feet instead of 19 feet.

Opponents of the center have long maintained that the center would be visible from the beach and have been critical of the design as too large for the scenic bay.

The city and supporters have backed the education center as a modern well-designed facility that will help educate visitors about the unique natural resource and snorkeling haven.

How could the mistake have been made?

"It's not an error at all," Harris said. "We think you can have the building serve its purpose, accomplish its mission and be five feet lower down in the front."