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Students Help With Harbor Planning in Hawaii

University of Hawaii graduate students explored the potential for improvements to the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, an important coastal public space in Honolulu.
January 17, 2021, 9am PST | clementkhlau | @clemusc
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Honolulu, Hawaii
Ala Wai Harbor in Honolulu.

Coastal planning is complicated and challenging even for seasoned planners due in part to the variety of issues and stakeholders involved. But that has not discouraged planning and landscape architecture students from the University of Hawaii at Manoa from studying Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor and offering recommendations for its improvement. Specifically, students in two graduate classes recently explored the potential for short- and long-term improvements to the harbor which is an important coastal public space that serves as a link between Ala Moana and Waikīkī.

The students in a planning practicum and a landscape architecture studio also examined how projected sea-level rise would impact the harbor. They conducted research, gathered input from stakeholders, studied precedents, and explored design strategies to tackle the issue. The findings informed their conceptual plan and recommendations for climate risk adaptation as well as for site improvements to enhance this public amenity. The students appreciated the opportunity to work on a real-world assignment to assist the state’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation and gain valuable experience and skills to prepare them for the transition to becoming professionals. 

Ala Wai Harbor is the largest small boat and yacht harbor in Hawaii. The harbor is situated in Honolulu at the mouth of the Ala Wai Canal, between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. To the east are Waikiki and Diamond Head; to the west are Magic Island and the Honolulu waterfront. Ala Wai Harbor has a rich cultural history and land uses that support recreational activities. Research shows that the harbor will be impacted by sea-level rise in the coming years. Thus, it is critical for any future plans to address this issue while taking into consideration the public’s vision for the harbor. 

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Published on Tuesday, December 22, 2020 in University of Hawai'i News
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