Presidential Library Committee
Ka‘ākaukukui, Honolulu, O‘ahu
In early 2015, the Hawai‘i submitted a proposal to host the Obama Presidential Center, and invited Snøhetta and WCIT Architecture to design a scheme for their waterfront site in Honolulu.
According to the Kumulipo, a native Hawaiian creation chant, life begins with ‘āko‘ako‘a, a single coral polyp which over time creates the land and all life that inhabits it. Inspired by the forms of a coral reef, Snøhetta and WCIT Architecture’s design for the Center is shaped around a central courtyard, providing a collective entry point and shared public space. The structure is both building and landscape with a sloping roof emerging from the ground which invites visitors to walk up to an elevated public terrace with unobstructed views of the famed Point Panic surf break, the Honolulu skyline, and iconic Diamond Head in the distance.
The landscape design includes interactive educational environments such as the White House Garden, fish ponds, taro fields, and salt pans to promote understanding of traditional practices and renew kinship with the land. The lifted building mass references the undulating terrain of the surrounding park to create framed views and shaded public spaces while also mitigating coastal risks.