Location: Ford Island, O`ahu
Client: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
LICH – La `au Ku Kahi Award of Excellence 2013
HHF – Preservation Honor Awards, Citation for New Addition and Adaptive Use 2014
LEED Gold Certification
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) new Pacific Regional Center is located on a national historic landmark site of Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, originally known as Moku ‘ume‘ume, or “the isle of attraction”. The project expresses the strong environmental ethos of both NOAA and that of the indigenous Hawaiian culture.
Featuring the adaptive reuse of two World War II-era aircraft hangers and its surrounding airfield, the 22-acre campus consolidates these two massive hangers by constructing a new building in the space between, thereby creating a new 350,000 square foot administrative headquarters and research center. The new campus design features high-performance architectural and landscape architectural elements with a focus on native plants, Hawaiian culture, and the site’s layered history. Using landscape as a medium, the design utilized a diverse native plant palette and artfully reveals the many facets of the historic site and its regional and cultural context. The site is organized along a strong central axis that can be drawn from the distant Wai‘anae and Ko‘olau Mountains, across Pearl Harbor, through the heart of the building and out the other side, across the parking area to the entry promenade which is anchored by a restored compass rose. It welcomes visitors as it slices through the bullet-strafed former airfield tarmac, recalling the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the site’s military history. The compass is set into cut lava and concrete paving, surrounded by repurposed concrete salvaged from the partial demolition of the historic tarmac
The tarmac has been fully repurposed, serving simultaneously as vehicular parking, a wartime artifact and as green infrastructure that performs storm water mitigation via constructed native grass bio-swales that detain, cleanse and infiltrate rainwater runoff. Concrete bands transect the porous paving, running from the building’s rainwater downspouts, and allude to the fact that the water is being used to irrigate the landscape. These concrete bands also bear the Hawaiian names of corresponding traditional land division units, called ahupua‘a, which can be observed in the distant mountain landscape.
The restorative and regenerative design of NOAA’s Pacific Regional Center is an important first step in revealing the many nuanced layers of the cultural and environmental history of Hawai‘i.