The UH Athletics Department is looking at ways to energize its area there in the quarry on the Mānoa campus. They turned to the UH Architecture Department for ideas on how to create a vibrant community feel, stretching from upper campus through lower campus, into the community as a whole. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports on a very special project and the ideas it generated.
“How do you create that experience of tailgating without a parking lot? Without a tailgate? Can you have a tailgating experience, can you have that pre-game culture, without necessarily tying it to a large parking lot?”
Those are not just rhetorical questions for architect Chris Hong, who led a University of Hawai‘i architecture student project to re-imagine that vast parched acreage around the parking structure and Stan Sheriff Center. Actually these are just a few of the questions students found themselves asking. One idea proposed moving the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Center more towards the mauka Diamond Head area.
“And then bringing in a thirty five thousand seat stadium. Do you have the space? And how can you start engaging the spaces between the buildings if you were to bring another large structure in. So you would have baseball, football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, all in one area.”
Students had to back everything up with constructability numbers and take into account the social and environmental impact of each option. A new student rec center has just been completed on the main campus, but one proposal involves a second rec center there closer to the dorms.
“That may have different types of gyms like parkour and yoga studios to supplement services currently covered under their tuition. Again, looking at mixed use residential with retail below, additional parking.”
You can tell these are users, thinking of how to attract themselves! All the proposals featured a rail station. One, cleverly uses the elevation to create a bridge of shops and activities above the current quarry, extending the experience of events at Stan Sheriff Center. Daniel Friedman, Dean of the UH School of Architecture, says it’s a way to introduce an alternative walkway that multiplies the area’s usability
“Instead of having to walk down that hill into what was once the quarry area, they get to stay level with Dole Street, more or less, in principle, and the idea is to introduce this alternate walkway. It’s a way to introduce art, sculptural effects, and something that stimulates social interaction, group activity. It’s a destination for students who have finished their classes and they want to go for a sports event or other recreational events and most importantly for housing.”
Currently most students blitz in then take off. We don’t have a college town area.
Hong: “If you’re increasing the non-adorned space, can you look at that as transitional housing, from student life to early workforce life? so that you’d still have more affordable rents, but it allows recent graduates to stay connected within a university culture while they’re starting their professional lives. What are the things that would be needed for that? Is there a daycare center? Is there a dog park? So you’re starting to look at what is the lifestyle of a recent graduate? And then how can you provide, creating a university village model and lifestyle within the Mānoa campus? So that it goes from a commuter campus where a lot of local kids come back and forth because they’re living at home to a university village that encompasses the live study play mindset? These are the kinds of ideas the students are tossing around of, what is currently msising? And these three groups looked at three very distinct strategies and to try and really push the boundaries.”
How those boundaries got pushed is another part of the story. Many in other disciplines have no idea of the work ethic involved in architecture schools. It’s intense, and highly competitive. Normally 4th year architecture students are bent on competitive, perhaps purely speculative, individual projects. Here, they were asked to work in teams, on designs that had to meet structural, fiscal, social and other specifications. They had to develop their own guidelines!
Friedman: “The interesting thing about our profession here in Hawai‘i is, we are predisposed to the needs of the community, that we consider needs of the community in advance of our own needs. That our own value as individuals emerges in the context of community to a much greater degree than any other place I’ve worked.”
That perspective makes building design very much a community design process, the topic of an upcoming symposium, Building Voices, set for Earth Day at the state capitol. It’s sponsored by the UH Manoa School of Architecture. More on that soon.