Pacific Business News -- The Hawaii environmental education nonprofit organization Kupu is preparing to open its Honolulu green jobs training center this week in a former net shed at Kewalo Basin
that was transformed by G70 into an educational building with classrooms, meeting space and a commercial kitchen for culinary job training for at-risk youth and young adults.
The $6 million project, named the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Hookupu Center at the Kewalo Basin Net Shed, has been nine years in the making.
Charles Kaneshiro, president and chief operating officer of G70, recalled the architecture firm’s first charrette for the project, then called a green jobs training center, was back in 2011, a year after Kupu began occupying the space on a month-to-month lease. Kupu assumed a long-term lease with the Hawaii Community Development Authority for the property in November 2017 and began construction in May of last year with general contractor J. Kadowaki Inc.
Kupu CEO John Leong noted that the renovation of the 5,000-square-foot building incorporated a number of sustainability features. For example, where the old net shed was closed in with little natural light, the renovated building can be completely opened to the outside — and ocean views — on three sides, cooled by the wind and by large overhead ceiling fans. Additional natural light to the main classroom space is provided by solar tubes in the ceiling.
The building is also powered by solar photovoltaic panels on the roof.
“I think the most impressive thing is happening in here,” he said, gesturing to the large open space. “It’s changing lives.”
Kupu, which was founded in 2007, provides service-learning programs to youth and young adults from the ages of 16 to 24, which Leong said is a demographic with one of the highest unemployment rates.
The commercial kitchen, which was funded by a donation from The MacNaughton Group Foundation, will host a new program funded by a grant of nearly $900,000 from the Hoag Family Foundation for a farm-to-table culinary training program. Leong expects some Kupu food products to come out of the program as well.
The space will also be used for community events, Leong said.
G70 discounted its fees and donated time and services for the project. J. Kadowaki also discounted where it could and also donated an imu pit, or traditional Hawaiian underground oven, for roasting.
Other donors to the project included The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Altres, Ward Village Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, the McInerny Foundation and the Atherton Family Foundation.