HIMB Marine Laboratory 1 & 2 at Coconut Island

project type

Renovation, Sustainable Design

year completed


Located on Moku o Loe, or Coconut Island, the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) was founded on the University of Hawaii’s first president John W. Gilmore’s belief that its teachings “should be in accordance with the environments.”

After transitioning from its original location on the shores of Waikiki to its new home on Coconut Island, the world-class facility became a mecca for biodiversity and biotechnology, two key research eras of tropical marine biology. Given the site’s significant place in the University of Hawaii’s history, MASON was fortunate to spearhead an extensive renovation of the original laboratory building in order to breathe new life into a modern and energy-efficient building that supports the next generation of marine researchers.

With over 23,000 square feet of laboratory and administration space, HIMB required a thorough reexamination in order to equip the facility with state-of-the-art features within the existing building’s shell to support the understanding and conservation of tropical marine ecosystems. Due to the facility’s energy-intensive nature, HIMB also needed to contribute the University’s system-wide 2025 target of 20 percent energy efficiency. A USGBC LEED Silver equivalency determined as a Code Plus scenario was established for the project. Through an integrated design process, the Architect-Engineer team met the project’s sustainability goals by identifying key strategies within the HVAC equipment and controls, lighting, and building envelope.

Project Details

  • Original concrete block structural walls were fully grouted to meet seismic and hurricane standards.
  • Construction work was staged to limit impact to a critical sea-water system that was pumped through the laboratories to maintain the marine experiments.
  • New laboratories were designed to meet three research settings - seawater, wet, and dry conditions. Each space was equipped with chemical-resistant cabinetry and countertop, and new laboratory safety equipment.
  • New offices were provided for HIMB administration, faculty, and graduate students. Each office was designed with a contemporary coastal aesthetic.


  • Documentation of Existing Conditions
  • Project Programming and Space Planning
  • Building Design
  • Sustainable Design Applications and Consultation
  • Construction Documents
  • Permitting
  • Construction Contract Administration
Newly designed laboratories.

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