UH team presents new vision for Ala Wai Harbor

A reimagined Ala Wai Harbor is part of a new vision plan developed by the University of Hawaiʻi Community Design Center (UHCDC). The proof-of-concept planning and design services offered by UHCDC provided the State of Hawaiʻi’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) with concept options for the state’s largest harbor for small boats located at the Ala Wai Canal between Waikīkī and Honolulu.

The new design features a multi-modal promenade to connect the coast, watercraft access and community spaces—for recreation and education—that can be adapted for the projected sea-level rise due to climate change.

Phoebe White, assistant professor of landscape architecture in the School of Architecture, and Priyam Das, associate professor and chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning housed in the College of Social Sciences, served as the faculty principal investigators and assembled a team.


(Photo credit: UHCDC)

The collaborative team included: Ariel Dungca, project designer at UHCDC; Hana Fulghum, a master of landscape architecture student; Sukhyun Hong, a bachelor of environmental design student; and Sandy Jiyoon Kim, a PhD student in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

The vision plan includes harbor amenities such as a fuel dock, pump out, small watercraft storage, a convenience store, laundry area, cafe and lounge, public comfort stations and more. The team designed the space with the intention of making the harbor more inviting for its users.

“The project demonstrates how the university can contribute to public interest projects, in this case, by envisioning culturally and ecologically resilient public spaces in anticipation of the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise,” said White.

See more UH News stories on Mānoa sustainability.
Stakeholder input was central in the design development. The team drew inspiration from precedents, and relied on data from relevant reports, site analysis, public engagement and DOBOR’s strategic plan.

“The concepts articulate a resilient coastal public space that sustains harbor functions and strengthens connections to the adjacent neighborhoods so more people can enjoy what the harbor has to offer,” said Das.