A central element of the University of Hawai‘i’s Long Range Development Plan is the creation of a masterplan for the land slated for the University’s West O‘ahu campus in a new growth area of Kapolei. In outlining the need for that new campus planning, the Development Plan states:
“The University has instituted a framework of sustainability guidelines to ensure that the University properties…incorporate sustainable design and building concepts. The guidelines provide a way to understand the current situation and inform the vision for the future by developing the campus and the neighboring community in ways that are equitable and make sense both ecologically and economically.”
John Hara Associates Inc. was given the design commission by the University both for origination of the campus master plan and the design and documentation of the first phase of buildings on the campus.These consist of the Library, the Student Services/Campus Center Building, and the Classroom and Administration Buildings.
The site for the West O‘ahu campus is a special parcel of land with gently sloping rural typography and stunning views to the mountains, the panoramic elevation of the city skyline, the edge of the sea, and the venerable Kalo‘i Gulch on the site itself. The design team based its approach on the understanding that sustainability is not one-dimensional, but rather consists of environmental, economic, social and cultural components. All were to be given continuous equal consideration throughout the master plan process in order to create a new campus with a rich character and content unachievable by any other means.
The Master Plan accepts the existing Kalo‘i Gulch as forming the eastern perimeter of the land parcel. The Plan retains and transforms this natural storm water runoff channel with its later agricultural associations as a greenway to provide a green space buffer between the campus and adjacent new medium-to-high-density housing. The greenway is also expected to be developed with native tree and plant species to improve habitat for at-risk native bird species and to serve as a bird/fauna corridor through the site.
The campus plan is based on the site’s typography and contours to create a series of natural platforms around which key groupings of buildings in stages can be sited. Each of these platforms or monumental terraces is linked through axial interior roadways with pedestrian/bicycle paths, gently sloping to the next natural terrace on the campus. The intersection of these roads creates a varying geometry of paved plazas, wide open campus greens, and intimate angular tropical gardens for outdoor study and class discussion.
The buildings comprising Phase 1 of the construction of the new campus are oriented within the plan for best solar conditions, to respond to view corridors, to be seen from pedestrian paths as three dimensional volumes placed on the diagonal and to frame significant major and minor places within the campus, such as the Great Lawn, the Central Courtyard, and the Entry Plaza, without creating an orthogonal boundary to these spaces.
The master plan addresses social and cultural sustainability in a number of ways, including this new campus serving as a “breath of fresh air” into the lives of commuters, of youth finding their way, of retirees determined to have an active life of both mind and body, and of the very young whose sense of future can be shaped by close proximity to what goes on at a university.
The master plan also specifies an integrated, site-specific public art program which affirms the University’s belief in the essential role of artists in society. John Hara Associates prepared a long term Master Plan for Works of Art for the West O‘ahu campus which contains detailed place-making plans for nine significant exterior and interior commissions. The first commission, “Cycles”, the Library Tower’s work in fused glass and light emitting diodes by Kaua‘i artist Carol Bennett, was coordinated by Hara as part of the building’s construction.