Categorized | Education, Featured

UH-Hilo dedicates Hale Alahonua Student Residence Hall

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Mayor Billy Kenoi untie the maile lei during the blessing of Hale Alahonua Student Residence Hall. (Photo courtesy of Office of the Mayor)


Students attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo now have a new housing option following the dedication of the $32.5 million Hale Alahonua residence hall (formerly referred to as University Village Phase I), located on 33 acres across from the main campus entrance on Kawili Street.

“This is a great day for current and future students at UH Hilo,” Chancellor Don Straney said. “A well-rounded education includes the personal growth, development and global perspective our students gain by living with each other on campus. Thanks to the efforts of our Hawaii Island legislators, support from Governor Abercrombie and others, that opportunity will be available to many more students.”

The new residential complex spans 105,505 square-feet and features approximately 300 units within a trio of three-story residential wings, along with a large, spacious common area and two exterior courtyards.

Hale Alahonua, or “the breeze upon which the fragrance of earth is carried,” represents the first student housing units built on campus since 1989.

The project was designed with the objective of balancing a student’s need for privacy with being part of a larger community, and incorporated key findings contained in a student survey.

“Over the years, the number one request we’ve received from students was for single-person bedrooms,” said Miles Nagata, executive director, housing and dining services. “Today’s students want their own space and that’s why having single-person bedrooms was a priority for this project.”

Each suite houses two students in private, enclosed bedrooms that include a bed, shelving and computer desk, in addition to a common space with an entry area, sink and bathroom.

Eight units are fully accessible to accommodate students in wheelchairs; sixteen are designed for the visually and hearing impaired.

A second priority was to provide a rich, student life option to promote greater camaraderie and a sense of community among students.

Hale Alahonua’s common area spans 9,581 square-feet, featuring a recreational/TV lounge with pool tables, a 16-unit computer lab, study/conference rooms, two kitchens, mailing facility, and a laundry room equipped with machines that notify students online or via text messages of the status of their laundry.

Hale Alahonua also brings various services directly to students via satellite operations. Three of the five first-floor offices will serve as a base of operations for Financial Aid, Global Exchange, National Student Exchange, Counseling Services and other key entities, who will make on-site visits when their services are in greatest demand.

Beyond the amenities, Hale Alahonua addresses the fundamental issue of producing an adequate housing inventory for a University that has been servicing an enrollment in excess of 4,100 (as of Fall 2012) with approximately 600 beds in its residence halls.

The additional inventory is expected to help meet the housing needs of incoming students, whose decision to attend would be based on whether they can find a place to live on campus.

“Research has consistently shown that students who live on campus have better academic success and retention rates. The addition of this residence hall facility provides an opportunity to make a positive difference in the performance of our students,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Luoluo Hong said.

Hale Alahonua was designed by Mitsunaga and Associates, Inc. (MAI), built by Albert C. Kobayashi, Inc. and managed by SSFM International.

The project was completed in less than 24 months, with construction taking only 14 months.

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