As part of our commitment to annually contribute a minimum of 1% of our time to pro bono causes, Ruhl Walker Architects has been working with the Hawai’i Wildlife Center since 2006 on Hawai’i's first and only native wildlife recovery, rehabilitation, and education center. The HWC is located in Halaula, Hawai’i, on the Big Island of Hawai’i.
It is difficult to think about problems of any kind amidst the overwhelming natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, but the sad truth is that the Islands are host to more threatened and endangered native species per square mile than any other place in the world. A report from 2010 on Climate Change states that 93% of Hawaiian birds are at medium to high vulnerability. In February 2007, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) declared that the forests of the Hawaiian Islands are the most threatened bird habitat in the United States. The ABC stated that “most (native species) are dependent on vigilant conservation measures to survive at all.” Having seen many of the Big Island’s native birds on a recent trip sponsored by HWC founder and director, Linda Elliott, and renowned wildlife biologist and widely published photographer, Jack Jeffry, project architect Will Ruhl has an even more profound feeling of the urgency for this facility. The BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is all the proof one needs that tragedy can occur even in paradise.
This continues to be a labor of love as we progress with fund raising to complete the interiors of the HWC; needless to say, fund raising has been particularly difficult due to the Great Recession! But we are proud to be part of an amazing team of architects from Boston and Waimea, engineers from California and Hawai’i, a landscape architect from Oahu who grew up near the HWC site, construction managers from Hawi, and many local contractors and subcontractors who have contributed so much of their time and donated materials. The spirit of aloha is alive and well!
The interiors of the HWC are framed and roughed, but the good news is that the exterior shell and rough landscape, grading, and parking is now substantially complete.