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Posted 5/24/2012

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By Stefanie Gardin

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii —  At the height of World War II, with the war raging at its peak, something unusual was happening near Fort Shafter. Local workers were building an oasis in the heart of the industrial munitions-production installation known as the Hawaiian Ordnance Depot.

Today, nearly 70 years later, the Historic Hawaii Foundation, or HHF, is recognizing the rehabilitation and restoration of that historic oasis, Building 330, known commonly as the Aloha Center, as one of the recipients of its 2012 Preservation Awards.

HHF presented U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District and small business contractor Alutiiq-Mele with the award at the 37th Annual Preservation Honor Awards ceremony, May 11, in Honolulu.

The awards are Hawaii's highest recognition of projects supporting the state's architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage, according to an HHF release.

The Building 330 rehabilitation and restoration effort was a nearly two-year, $7 million effort to preserve Army and Hawaii cultural heritage, and also an investment in sustainability, according to Ken Hays, architectural historian, Cultural Resources Program, USAG-HI.

Hays' job is to protect the historic properties on Hawaii's Army installations and ensure compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.

"It sounds like a lot of money, but when you consider a building that's been around for 60 some years, and now it's set for another 30 or 50 years, I think the investment is really worth it," he said, adding much of the cost came from bringing the building up to current security requirements.

Today the building is much stronger than it was in the 1940s, but still looks the same. The team took great care preserving the details -- from the original windows and doors, to the siding, roof and paint colors.

"There was a lot of thought put into the building's design, and that's why we put the effort back into it," Hays said. "(Building 330) is really one of our best designed buildings at Fort Shafter … It has a refinement to it, and a beauty."

The building served as the headquarters for the Hawaiian Ordnance Depot. It was the work of famous Hawaii landscape architect Robert Thompson, whose other projects included Tripler Army Medical Center, Doris Duke's Shangri La, the governor's mansion at Washington Place, and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

Thompson's touches on Building 330 included the use of special molds to make the concrete walls look more like a brick building; large, plentiful windows for natural lighting and ventilation; a courtyard; outdoor hallways; and a formal flowering garden complete with trellises adorned with flowering vines.

Quality of life then was just as important then as it is today. Everything was beautiful and green to promote a healthy working environment, Hays pointed out, right down to the outdoor hallways that are typical Hawaii design.

"You didn't stay cooped up all day," he said. "You had to go outside to see someone down the hall, and when you did, you could enjoy the garden."

Building 330 is USAG-HI's tenth project to receive HHF recognition. This year the Army also received a Centennial Recognition for Battery Randolph in Waikiki.