The University of Hawaii West Oahu has gained a new Perkins+Will-designed addition that’s not only visually striking but also site-specific to Kapolei, a planned community on the island of Oahu. Created in collaboration with Hawaii-based KYA Design Group, the campus building offers a mix of workspaces and learning areas for students, faculty and staff. All parts of the University of Hawaii’s new Administration and Allied Health Building was inspired by the site context, from the siting of the building to the sculptural zigzagging roof that references the area’s historic sugar mills.

gray textured building with native plants in front

Located on land that had formerly been used as sugarcane fields, the University of Hawaii’s West Oahu campus is tied to a long agricultural history dating back more than a hundred years. Continued sustained tilling, however, has stripped away rich topsoil and rendered the land less fertile and less able to retain water. As a result, Perkins+Will has made environmental stewardship a priority in the project with a landscaping plan that will restore the topsoil through nitrogen fixing planting, improve onsite ecological water and nutrient management and revive native landscaping.

textured gray facade of a building

lanai with white tables and red chairs

Eco-friendly principles also guided the design of the 43,000-square-foot complex, which features deep open-air lanais (balconies) on the south-facing facade that provide shade against the harsh sun and promote natural ventilation. The textured monolithic skin is made from concrete masonry units (CMUs) that form a geometric pattern inspired by traditional Hawaiian kapa (cloth).

Related: Perkins + Will’s KTTC building blends beauty and sustainability in Ontario

close-up of textured concrete facade

concrete building on grassy lot

“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,” Mark Tagawa, associate principal at Perkins+Will’s LA Studio, said. “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.”

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Via Dezeen

Photography by Andrea Brizzi via Perkins+Will

aerial view of concrete building with jagged roof