Faculty, staff provide input on new building design in co-creation workshops

Construction of a new $70 million five-story building on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus is scheduled to begin in 2024 on McCarthy Mall where Snyder Hall stood before it was demolished in 2021. The first two floors will be much-needed modern classroom and learning spaces and the top three floors will be the new homes of the College of Education (COE) and selected components of the College of Arts, Languages & Letters (CALL).

COE and CALL faculty and staff participated in a series of co-creation workshops in spring 2023 by the UH Community Design Center (UHCDC), an interactive process to solicit feedback on potential designs of workspaces. The participants interacted with architectural models that included movable furniture and walls/partitions to better visualize and provide input on the designs to best suit their needs.

“These co-creation workshops give faculty and staff an opportunity to comment on design concepts right in the planning stages,” said UHCDC Principal Investigator Brian Strawn. “Receiving feedback before we hire an architect will help to ensure that the space is well designed and functional for the people who will be using it.”

The participants and organizers say the workshops are a great way to engage those who will ultimately work in the new building.

“By meeting with small groups, we can hear from them about their needs, and they can be involved as a part of the process,” said Gaye Chan, interim associate dean at CALL. “These meetings have given us opportunities to learn about what faculty and staff do in their work life, hear about needs that we would have never thought of, and also allowed us to clear up misunderstandings.”

UHCDC is a unit of the UH Mānoa School of Architecture, and the workshops were also a great learning experience for architecture students. They helped staff the workshops and experienced firsthand what it is like to work with clients and receive feedback on design concepts during the planning stages.

“Participating in co-creation workshops as an architecture student has refined my abilities in physical modeling and client communication,” said Hunter Wells, an architecture student interning at UHCDC. “These workshops have not only taught me how to balance productivity and efficiency, but also emphasized the significance of observing client reactions for continuous improvement.”

The co-creation workshops were held on the third floor of the Isabella Aiona Abbott Life Sciences Building.