The Hilo base facility of the Institute for Astronomy in the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo University Research Park supports the Institute’s telescope operations on Mauna Kea and provides expansion space for its technology and instrumentation development, teaching, and outreach programs. The $11 million 35,000 square-foot split-level building was designed by Oda/McCarty Architects, Ltd., of Hilo and was built by Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company. The building, located at 640 North A‘ohoku Place, was dedicated on February 23, 2001.
The IfA Hilo facility is equipped with shops and laboratories for the development and maintenance of scientific instruments and telescopes, library, auditorium, and remote telescope operation rooms. The office space accommodates astronomers, engineers, technicians, administrative and management staff, students, and academic visitors. High-bandwith fiber-optics data and video links connect the Hilo building to IfA facilities on O‘ahu and Maui, telescopes on Mauna Kea, and to other astronomical institutes around the world.
In addition to accommodating IfA personnel and programs, the new facility also provides space for the Hilo operations of the Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i, the Office of Mauna Kea Management, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR), and other UH Hilo programs. This new facility also promotes much closer collaboration between the astronomy programs of the Institute and those at UH Hilo, in particular, the University’s first Bachelor of Science in Astronomy program, offered by UH Hilo.
The Institute for Astronomy joined the five astronomy facilities already located in the University Research Park: the Joint Astronomy Centre (which manages the united Kingdom Infrared Telescope and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope), the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, Gemini Observatory, Subaru Telescope, and the Submillimeter Array. These six facilities employ approximately 270 people and serve the astronomy communities in nine countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is also located in the University Research Park.