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Extended seating with a canopy
Exterior render of Paradise Palms

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa plans to create more outdoor spaces for students at a new, larger entrance to Paradise Palms and along McCarthy Mall. The project will add modern, comfortable seating for more than 1,000 students where they can study, eat and socialize.

“The goal of this project is to improve the student experience at UH Mānoa, similar to the Student Success Center that’s scheduled to open in fall 2025,” said UH Vice President of Administration Jan Gouveia. “The planned outdoor seating would provide what students are asking for—more outdoor spaces where they can study, gather together, collaborate and eat.”

A new, larger entrance to Paradise Palms will be built facing McCarthy Mall and the open space between the Isabella Aiona Abbott Life Sciences Building and Hamilton Library. A 75-by-70-foot, transparent photovoltaic glass roof will be installed at the new entryway along with seating for about 500 people. The new outdoor area will include high stools and tables under the new roof, outside tables with umbrellas and electrical outlets. Paradise Palms, constructed in 1994, is one of the most highly utilized spaces on campus during lunchtime.

Render of newly paved McCarthy Mall with seating
Render of McCarthy Mall (click/tap for larger image)

McCarthy Mall’s tree lined walkway will be widened, from about 30 feet to 55 feet, to add seating for about 500 people. The center of the walkway will be for pedestrians; the outer edges for bicycles, skateboards, etc. with seating and tables in between. The seating options include lounge chairs and benches with tablet arms for laptops, along with electrical outlets and lighting. It will be the first time McCarthy Mall has been updated since it was built in 1962.

Design group plays important role

Two people assembling a model
Paradise Palms model (click/tap for larger image)

The campus improvement project was designed by a team at the UH Community Design Center (UHCDC) of the School of Architecture led by Principal Investigators Brian Strawn and Karla Sierralta. The team held an interactive workshop in 2022 around a large model of the campus in the courtyard at Campus Center. Students were asked what kinds of amenities they would most like to have on campus. About 50% of students said the campus’s biggest need is more covered outdoor study space with electrical outlets.

UHCDC’s mission is to help Hawaiʻi through design, and the center plays a significant role in the planning of capital improvement on the UH Mānoa campus. The center recently held co-creation workshops where the future tenants of a new building that will be built on McCarthy Mall used scaled architectural models to provide design input on their workspaces.

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