Developer/Owner

National Park Service

Architect

The Portico Group

Contractor

Watts Constructors, LLC

Location

Honolulu, Hawaii

Background

BASE recently completed the design of the new Pearl Harbor Visitors Center, a facility of approximately 55,000 sq. ft. of shaded or enclosed space, more than doubling the size of the original visitor center. On over 17 acres, the new facility is arranged in a “campus style” layout that integrates the buildings within liberal green spaces. The site plan takes advantage of the mild Hawaiian weather and trade winds to maximize visitor comfort and energy efficiency. Visitors flow through a combination of conditioned and unconditioned interior spaces and exterior spaces that maximize views of Pearl Harbor and the Memorial. The facility is LEED Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Given the USS Arizona Memorial’s invaluable national significance, it has also been identified by the United States Navy as a potential target for terrorism, such that antiterrorism concerns became a primary consideration for both the site layout and building design. To design the new visitor center, BASE implemented the Department of Defense Antiterrorism Standards as outlined in the Unified Facilities Criteria.

Client Benefits

“BASE has performed very well, giving the National Park Service design team the critical information to make informed decisions about the future of [the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center]. They have adapted well to a shifting set of programmatic criteria on the part of the agency and have responded in the highest professional manner.”
- William W. Hacker, The Portico Group

The Science and Design of Stuctural Engineering

Since the visitor center first opened approximately 25 years ago, the differential settlement of the building has caused a considerable amount of concern. To address extremely poor soil conditions, the visitor center was constructed upon a foundation system that allowed the structure to be periodically re-leveled as differential settlement occurs. Over the years, the building has been re-leveled on three separate occasions. Consequently, portions of the structure have exhausted the capacity for any further adjustment due to larger than anticipated settlements. For this reason, the building required extensive geotechnical and structural analyses.

These geotechnical and structural studies provided the National Park Service with the information necessary to conclude that replacing the visitor center is far more cost effective than to continuing to repair and maintain the existing buildings. Consequently the new structure design gave careful consideration to the poor soil conditions along with the other aggressive environmental concerns of constructing a building adjacent to a salt water harbor.