The lava rocks in the concrete wall represent our students: they come to us with rough edges.
- Vladmir Ossipoff, architect of the HPA chapel
The Energy Lab is a collection of classroom spaces that flow into each other, separated only by glass, where learning is fluid, expansive and breaks the industrial educational mold.
Situated at the north end of the HPA campus bordering the woods that surround the dorms, the Energy Lab has excellent exposure to wind and solar energy as well as inspiring views. Based on the idea that buildings should engage their occupants and create a fluid transition to the environment, there is no place in the Energy Lab where a student might sit that is more than 22 feet (8 meters) from a window. Passively ventilated and illuminated, the Energy Lab is a quiet place with a serenity that draws students whether or not they have class here.
As an homage to Ossipoff's work on the HPA chapel, the walls of the Energy Lab include rough lava rocks from the land surrounding our village of Waimea. Etched into the concrete bench of the outdoor classroom, an outline of the hills surrounding the Energy Lab evokes a sense of continuity with the environment.
The building is designed to reflect the creative process of collaboration, research and creation, with the conference room, project room and monitoring lab on the north wing, an airy main hall at its center, and a creative workshop and lab space with an expansive balcony on the south end.
The conference room hosts state of the art teleconferencing monitors with cameras that enable interaction between those in the room and guests from around the world.
The project room can be separated into study rooms for small group collaboration, or opened for up to 20 people at a time.
The monitoring lab is the hub for student projects, with critical system monitoring equipment as well as the latest project technologies: EEG brain wave headsets, research drones with high resolution cameras, a 3D printer, DNA cloning tools, and many others. This room hosts the servers that monitor energy, water, light, and many other metrics in the Energy Lab and other buildings on campus.
As part of the Living Building Challenge certification, constant monitoring of these metrics was required for one year post occupancy. We created our own telemetry, control and monitoring system that “learns” year after year how to make the building more comfortable, adapting to weather cycles using student analysis of data.
The main hall is inspired by the one room schoolhouse model, with flexible seating and a trio of overhead monitors. There is no “front” to this room, which enables participants to invent new learning models. The current configuration of a triangle means that classes are more seminar than lecture, and everyone sees each other face to face.
The workshop's high-top benches, often host to robotic creations, double as storage for equipment used by physics and other lab classes as needed. This space opens onto the balcony, with sweeping views of the mountains Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualālai to the south.