A long-awaited dream will become reality with the Grand Opening of Windward Community College’s new Library Learning Commons, a contemporary learning environment and the first green library in the University of Hawaii System, on Wednesday, August 29 at 10 a.m.
Sen. Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee describes the library as “one of the crowning jewels of WCC’s campus and the Windward side.”
The Grand Opening, as part of the celebration of Windward Community College’s 40th year anniversary, will include music by The Royal Hawaiian Band from 9:30–10 a.m. followed by dedication speeches by University of Hawaii officials and legislators, as well as students who helped mount a lobbying campaign to gain support for the new library.
Kahu David Kaupu, who blessed Windward Community College 40 years ago when the college first opened its doors, will perform the official blessing to welcome the public into the new Library Learning Commons, named Hale Laakea or “Hall of Enlightenment.”
At 11:00 a.m. a special time capsule dedication will take place inside the library, with a short ceremony that includes sealing the time capsule in a vault—complete with porthole and light for viewing—under the grand stairway.
Students, (some from the first graduating class of 1974), current college faculty and staff, and retirees have provided items for the time capsule. The vault and time capsule will remain sealed for 20 years and will be opened in 2032. The vault allows the college to perpetually celebrate its history and accomplishments with future sealing and opening ceremonies.
More about the new Library Learning Commons
The three-story, 69,000 square-foot Library Learning Commons consolidates several campus services under one roof and replaces the current 90-year-old structure that has served as WCC’s library since the college opened in 1972. The building was designed to encourage the use of natural daylight, allow for views of the surrounding natural beauty, blend with the existing architecture, integrate services supporting student success, and act as a focal building within the campus.
In recognition of WCC’s history and culture, the design is underscored by a respect for WCC’s architecture and sense of place and the natural beauty of the Koolau Mountain Range. Benches in the atrium area and the main circulation desk are from wood recycled from the deconstructed building previously located on the site, and tapa pattern grilles decorate the plentiful lanais.
Designed by Architects Hawaii Ltd., the Library Learning Commons is a model of sustainability, according to Terry McFarland, lead architect for the project. The building’s special features, designed with the goal of attaining a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification, include:
- Storm water collection to maintain the native plants around the building
- Waterless urinals
- photovoltaic panels, motion-activated sensors and high-efficiency light bulbs
- Windows and skylights will provide natural light to 75 percent of the interior, along with high-efficiency glazing to reduce heat and glare
- Recycling of resources from “deconstruction” of an older building, with an estimated 80 percent of materials diverted from the landfill and recycled on or off-campus.
- High efficiency glazing will allow most of the light in while reducing solar radiation and heat gain.
The interior space has been designed for flexibility and comfort and to respond to current teaching methods that stress collaboration and interactive learning—including having a coffee shop and docking stations for laptop computers.
Some of the exciting new features include:
- A pedestrian mall with colonnaded walkways, tiled roofs, low building massing, shaded lanai, and landscaping.
- A coffee shop on the main floor is situated close to WCC’s Paliku Theatre and will be open during performances for patrons.
- Decorative motifs detail gutters and leader boxes, exposed soffit rafters and wall trim are used on the exterior of the library.
- A 15,301-square-foot lower floor area includes a periodicals lounge, computer classroom, study areas, media instruction, computing services and electronic tech support including computer plug-ins.
- A 22,077-square-foot area includes book stacks, a staff workroom, Hawaiian collection and conference rooms.
“We used an integrated design process in which students, teachers and administrators were involved to help establish a design program and design direction,” said Terry McFarland, principal at Architects Hawaii Ltd. “This process provided the interaction needed to produce a learning environment that meets and often exceeds user and community expectations.”
The new facility is a far cry from the cramped, leaky space the college has lived with for the past 40 years. It was these conditions that spurred a coalition of students, faculty, staff and community members to start a campaign in support of a new building.
Nancy Heu, WCC’s head librarian, said, “I am truly grateful to all the students, faculty, staff, community members and legislators who have poured their hearts and souls into getting this new building for the college and the whole Windward side,” and added, “E komo mai – we welcome everyone to our beautiful new library and the services that support our students and community.”
“So many people have worked together to make this building a reality,” said WCC Chancellor Doug Dykstra. “This grand opening celebration is a testament of our commitment to higher education and to teaching, learning, cultural enrichment and service.”