Perkins+Will create new ‘landmark’ for Hawaii

Nick Myall
23 Apr 2018

The design of this new university building is influenced by the vivid history of its surroundings

Construction on the University of Hawaii’s new Administration and Allied Health Building is nearing completion. Designed by Perkins+Will’s LA Studio in collaboration with Hawaii-based KYA Design Group, the campus building will be a visually dynamic addition to the University of Hawaii West Oahu.  Defined by campus administration as a ‘Landmark Building,’ the architectural design is influenced by the vivid history of the land, informed by the site, and shaped by its function. 

Consolidating office space for campus leadership into a single location, while also providing general purpose classrooms and wet/dry teaching laboratories for Microbiology, Cellular / Molecular, Anatomy / Physiology, and Organic Chemistry, the project aspires to create a variety of flexible, engaging workplace and learning environments for students, faculty and staff.

Mark Tagawa, associate principal at Perkins+Will’s LA Studio says, “The challenge was how to best consolidate the distinct functions of teaching labs and classrooms within the same building as office space for the campus administration. We wanted to create a facility that interacted with the landscape in a sympathetic way, through water management, landscaping, and materiality. Cultural and ecological appropriateness was our filter for all design decisions.”

As the first phase of the campus was influenced by historic sugar mills, the Administration and Allied Health Building is inspired by the additive nature of this building typology’s gable roof form. The building enclosure utilizes CMU (concrete masonry unit) as a monolithic skin with its texture and pattern inspired by traditional Hawaiian kapa (cloth). 

“The building serves to greet those entering the campus on one end while also completing the mauka (mountain) side of the great lawn at the other.  While the administration wing acknowledges the ceremonial campus entry, its allied health component points to the commuter entry currently being developed with the new light rail line.” said Tagawa.

Located within the Honouliuli ahupuaa (traditional Hawaiian land division), the campus is on former sugar can land with a legacy of over 100 years of agriculture.  Decades of sustained tilling has depleted organic matter in the topsoil decreasing the ability to retain water and support new plant life.  This project seeks to demonstrate the University’s leadership and stewardship for new development in Kapolei. It aspires to restore, heal and rebuild the topsoil through nitrogen fixing planting; to implement onsite ecological water and nutrient management; and to regenerate and revive native landscaping.

Acting as sunshading, deep open air lanais (balconies) on the southern facade became a key design feature by connecting both interior and outdoor circulation. The Lanai is a natural gathering space and an extension of the classroom. It is a campus amenity that is physically and visually connected to the Great Lawn.  

Tagawa says, “The design of this building through its siting, its form and its engagement with the land was influenced by the ecology and history of its location. It is a site-specific solution that will support and continue the University’s mission of embracing the culture and tradition of Hawaii while fostering excellence in advanced education.”

The New Administration & Allied Health Building opens to students in the Spring of 2019.

Bonnie Arakawa, Director of Planning and Facilities, UH West O?ahu, said: “As part of our strategic planning efforts, Chancellor Maenette Benham and the UH West O?ahu community have been working toward identifying our future growth strategies, and the Administration & Health Sciences Facility is a key component in strengthening our 21st Century Learning infrastructure and fostering kai?ulu – creating community – both physically and socially.

“The Administration & Health Sciences Building is our first major capital improvement project since the Kapolei campus opened in 2012 and it couldn't come any sooner. As the only UH campus posting enrollment increases, coupled with a shortage of space, we are looking forward to the addition of a mix of learning spaces, including classrooms, laboratories, and covered breezeways that extend collaboration and learning outdoors. In addition, the facility will finally provide us with centralized administrative offices, which are currently scattered throughout our 5-building complex.

“Positioned strategically at our campus gateway, the building's Administration wing will help to frame and define our mauka plaza with its dramatic 2-story entry portal and lanai, inviting students, staff, and visitors to learn, work, and engage together.”

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Nick Myall

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