UH Hilo's College of Pharmacy completes design of permanent home; awaits funding

April 28, 2011

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has successfully completed the design phase of a permanent state-of-the art building for the College of Pharmacy, thanks in part to $5.5 million funding from the state legislature in 2009.

Funds are now being sought from the legislature and others for construction of the building for the only school of pharmacy in the Pacific region. During an April site visit in Hilo, a group from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the national accrediting agency responsible for pharmacy schools, said the lack of a permanent building is a serious concern.

“We cannot overstate the importance of this building to Hawaiʻi’s future as the hub of health care and discovery,” Dean John Pezzuto said. “It will also allow us to give our students the best possible professional pharmacy education and move forward with accreditation. What’s more, the cost of construction is more than offset by the economic benefits the College brings to the state of Hawaiʻi.”

In a recent fact-gathering meeting with CoP faculty, Hawaiʻi State Representative Jerry Chang said he has long recognized the value of CoP to the health care of the people in the state.

Representative Clift Tsuji said, “When you consider the data from the economic impact study that shows the College brings in more than $50 million a year to the state, there’s no question that this is an investment that will more than pay for itself virtually in no time.”

WCIT Architecture of Honolulu designed the building, which will cost an estimated $66 million. In 2010, WCIT won an architecture award for the design of UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language building.

WCIT President Rob Iopa said the design approach blends environment, place and architecture unique to the needs of the College of Pharmacy yet within the framework of other buildings on campus.

“We are contemporary builders, but at the same time there are references for inspiration that we wanted to express,” Iopa said. Born and raised in Hilo, Iopa’s firm paid respectful homage to many aspects of Hawaiian culture, such as identifying a piko, or center.

“WCIT Architecture has done a beautiful job designing the Hawaiian languages building, but I want to stress we are not just looking for window dressing,” said Dr. Debra Fitzsimons, vice chancellor for administrative affairs. “I’m confident their design of the College of Pharmacy will complement our existing structures on the UH Hilo campus while giving them the proper educational vessel they require.”

Once funded, the structure will be built on the corner of Komohana and Nowelo Streets, in close proximity to CoP’s temporary headquarters on South Aohoku Place.

See more news from 2011.