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Ribbon cutting held in Honolulu marks completion of modernization project

By Christi Chidester

Ajo housing development

Pono Shim chants over the maile lei.

In the sunny courtyard of the Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole (PJKK) Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Honolulu, about 100 people gathered to mark the completion of part one of the building’s modernization project.

“Now we have a building that can properly represent Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, the first delegate to the Congress from the territory of Hawaii,” said former Congressional Representative Colleen Hanabusa.

The event was held on Thursday, January 22 at 10 a.m. and was attended by members of the judiciary, federal employees, dignitaries and project stakeholders. Acting PBS Regional Commissioner Dan Brown served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event, which also featured complimentary remarks from newly-elected Governor David Ige.

“It really is a lesson for us to follow as we look at aging state facilities and make decisions about what is the best way forward to extend the life of these investments that our taxpayers have made,” said Governor Ige.

Ninth Circuit Judge Susan Graber, a Hawaiian history buff, dedicated her time at the podium to talking about the life and legacy of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, highlighting his journey from royalty to dissenter to lawmaker.

Chief Judge for the District of Hawaii, Susan Oki Mollway, told attendees of the hard work and dedication of the team who made this project such a success. When speaking of GSA Project Executive Mario Ramirez, she stated he is “nothing short of a national treasure!”

The event was capped off by remarks from Mr. Pono Shim, a local who provided a blessing and performed a traditional Hawaiian chant over the maile lei at the doors to the courthouse. A maile lei is a traditional Hawaiian lei made of fragrant maile leaves that is often a part of grand openings and other important celebrations.

The $120M modernization project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The work to reduce water and energy use in the building has resulted in a significant benefit, putting the building on track to receive a LEED® Gold designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. Part one of the project, which completely renovated the courthouse wing and covered the complete design work for the facility, also consisted of the construction of a new entrance pavilion and upgrades to mechanical and life safety systems. Part two, the modernization of the federal building wing, has not yet been funded.

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