Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan

After more than two years of intense public discussion, the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii adopted a new Master Plan for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve on June 16, 2000. The full plan addresses all aspects of the Mauna Kea summit: an area considered sacred by the indigenous Hawaiian people, the locale of a  fragile aeolian driven ecosystem, and, of course, a unique, world renowned, site for ground based astronomy.  Readers should consult the  full text  of the Master plan  to appreciate the range of concerns addressed therein. For our purposes her, the most relevant issues are present below. [Unless noted, the boxed text below is taken verbatim from the Master Plan.]

Astronomy Precinct: [The summit area within which Astronomical Observatories may be sited - see picture below.]

The anticipated program for astronomy development envisions five
different categories of facility development projects (Types I-V), as listed below.

Type I. Redevelopment of Existing Observatory Sites on the Summit Ridge:

Redevelopment or ?recycling? of up to five existing telescopes, including NASA/IRTF, CFHT, UH 2.2 m, UKIRT, and UH 0.6 m. It is anticipated that up to three or four facilities may be redeveloped over the next 20 years.

Type II. Expansion of Existing Observatories:
Expansion of the Keck Observatory with the addition of four to six 1.8-m. outrigger telescopes. Four are being proposed to start development in 2001. The Submillimeter Array may add up to 12 new antennas and 24 new pads over the next 20 years. 

Type III. New Conventional Optical/IR Telescope
A new conventional telescope comparable to the Keck or Gemini Observatories at a currently undeveloped site. An instructional telescope for UH-Hilo is also projected.

Type IV. Next Generation Large Telescope (NGLT)
A single optical/IR telescope of 25 m. aperture or greater. This is currently only being discussed in the astronomy community and there is a 50 percent possibility that this facility may be developed in the next 20 years.

Type V. Optical/IR Interferometer Array Site
A general area is proposed for this observatory. No facilities are included in this Plan. Facilities must undergo the major Master Plan amendment process for approval.

Heights & Widths: Heights and widths of ridge facility designs should seek to minimize visible heights above existing ground as much as practicable. The following are maximum dimensions established to guide the design of facilities and to regulate the impact of new development.

· Facilities developed on ridge sites may be developed to a maximum height of approximately 130 feet measured from finished grade, and a maximum width of 130 feet. 
· Support facilities in the astronomy precinct should be designed to reduce the height of vertical planes on exterior walls.
· Facilities that can be built underground are encouraged to do so to reduce the part that must remain above grade.
· Mounding cinders around telescope bases could be considered to reduce visible heights.
· Where practical, build into existing slopes to reduce the visible height.

Scale: Facilities should be scaled to minimize their impact on the natural landscape of the summit area. As much as practical, telescope enclosures should be designed to minimally accommodate the instrument. Where the size of the enclosure is necessarily large, strategies should be considered to blend it into the surrounding landscape. The following are some strategies for reducing apparent scale:

· Bury portions of the structure as practicable.
· Place berms against the building to reduce visible areas.
· Shape superstructures using natural and curved forms which blend into the environment rather than orthogonal geometries.
· Color surfaces to blend into the landscape.
· Design exterior articulations and changes in color and texture to break up large continuous surfaces.
· Use materials that blend into the natural landscape.

Colors: Color plays an important part in visibility and thermal impacts. Color choices should seek to minimize the visual impact of the facility from surrounding areas. While it is understood that the mitigation of thermal impacts on observatory functions is an important consideration, domes should be colored to aid in masking and blending facilities into the natural landscape. The following strategies are to be employed:

· For ridge facility domes, a combination of detailed geometrical design, surface treatment (i.e. reflecting vs. non-reflecting) and color (blues and grays) to minimize visibility against the daytime sky.
· For base sections, use browns and other earth colors to blend facilities with the natural cinder cone surroundings.
· For off-ridge facility enclosures use colors and patterns such as the mottled brown tones of the surrounding lava landscape.
· Color concrete utility pull boxes installed along underground utility routes, antennae pads and miscellaneous structures with mottled brown tones to blend with the surrounding lava landscape. No raw, uncolored concrete surfaces are to be allowed.

Type IV. Next Generation Large Telescope Site

A single large optical/IR telescope may be proposed for Mauna Kea in the 20-year life of this plan. A ground-based telescope with a mirror of 25 to 50 m. in diameter is being considered by the astronomy community, which would complement the planned Next Generation Space Telescope. This facility would be the largest telescope in the world, and is currently called the Next Generation Large Telescope (NGLT). The large scale of this instrument makes the visual impact considerations very important in the facility siting and design. 

The NGLT would not be appropriately located at Mauna Kea's summit ridge, due to the major earthwork requirements that would disturb Wekiu bug habitat and the visibility of a large telescope placed atop the ridge. In addition, telescope engineers have indicated that wind forces acting on the structure are expected to be severe and problematic. To minimize potential obscuration of existing observatories, the potential site for this facility must also be located in an area that is distant from the prominent topography at the summit ridge and nearby pu`u. [The picture below shows a concept of what the Master Planners thought an NGLT might look like.]

Master Plan: [The Last Word]

As described in Chapter XI, the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents and the President retain project approval and design review authority over all developments within the Science Reserve. 

 To assist the University in its evaluation of proposed new development, all applications will be reviewed by the Office of Mauna Kea Management, The Mauna Kea Management Board, and the Kahu Küpuna Council (see Figure XI-2, page XI-8). In making any decisions on project approval, the Board will carefully consider the advice received from the above three groups.