Mar 09, 2015
Ward Village Has Native Roots That Run Deep
The iconic IBM Building on Auahi Street is an architectural landmark in Honolulu where endemic species—plants that exist only in Hawai'i—are integrated into its notable urban structure.
The Howard Hughes Corporation's recent restoration of the Vladmir Ossipoff-designed building includes an ecological foundation of 14 species of Native Hawaiian plants that breathe further life into its current landscape.
'Ohi'a lehua, palapalai, kalo, naupaka, and more weave their way throughout the exterior and interior demonstrating how our ancient Hawai'i ecosystem can seamlessly co-exist with the urban Honolulu sprawl we recognize today—a task that requires a respectful, knowledgeable, and local touch.
Cue Richard Quinn, a principal urban planner and architect at HFF Planners with more than 30 years of design experience. Along with landscape architect James Lord, Quinn set out to reclaim what a "tropical" and "exotic" landscape looks like to Hawai'i citizens and visitors alike.
Because Hawai'i's endemic plants only thrive in a very distinct ecology, one that is no longer the norm in urban Honolulu, they intimately replicated the necessary native ecological components to work in tandem with the rest of the building's design. In essence, to take the building's biological landscape back to a time in Hawai'i's history that preceded buildings entirely.
The landscaping of this native ecosystem also remains in locally trained hands. Kaka'ako-based Takano Nakamura Landscaping installed and currently maintains every inch of this special soil. In time, The Howard Hughes Corporation will continue building and nurturing this distinct design model in future Ward Village projects.
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