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In an ongoing commitment to cultivate innovation and enrich the student experience, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is unveiling a new classroom in spring 2024 located in Dean Hall 104. Following in the footsteps of the Sakamaki Hall Innovation Zone, this new Dean 104 Culture Lab offers a teaching and learning space uniquely designed for diverse, innovative, culturally based courses taught across all disciplines at UH Mānoa.

Designed to accommodate 25 students, the de-centered classroom introduces multiple points of focus, fostering an inclusive and engaging learning environment. Located adjacent to Campus Center on the historic quad, faculty who are interested in submitting a brief proposal to teach in the Culture Lab for a spring 2024 course can visit this website.

More on the Sakamaki Hall Innovation Zone

“The newly designed culture lab offers the opportunity to align UH’s unique place with its classroom space,” said UH Vice President for Academic Strategy Debora Halbert. “Intentionally designed spaces can elevate the learning experience and facilitate innovative instructional methods. This particular classroom is an excellent example of such innovation and design.”

Dynamic space


Dean 104 Culture Lab features furniture that can be easily rearranged and repurposed, providing flexibility for multiple seating options. The space is tailored to accommodate performance activities associated with cultural practices and knowledge, such as music, dance, drama and storytelling. Collaborative endeavors, such as food sharing, are made possible by incorporating a countertop, cabinets and sink.

The space boasts multiple whiteboards and sliding, translucent writing surfaces. Windows located throughout the room allows for a lot of natural daylight, minimizing reliance on electricity and promoting sustainability. Included in the space is a OneScreen smart touchscreen, and “Bring Your Own Device” technology is supported by available charging towers throughout the lab.

“It is really important that a Center for Teaching Excellence is involved in creating spaces where faculty are eager to try out new practices for teaching and learning,” said Kathie Kane, director of the UH Mānoa Center for Teaching Excellence. “Providing a space that can accommodate these innovative practices is our way of supporting them.”

Drawing inspiration from Mānoa Valley

classroom windows

GD Design Hawaiʻi architect Glenn Yokotake drew inspiration from the rich history of Mānoa Valley, particularly focusing on the significance of agriculture and farming in the region. Historical photos of the valley informed his design, depicting the patchwork of various farm lots, which is translated onto the floor of the culture lab with three carpets blending into each other.

The original alignment of Mānoa Stream, which once passed directly through the modern-day UH Mānoa campus, serves as a central theme. Light blue dots on the ceiling and baffles (used to reduce sound) trace the historical stream’s path, with yellow baffles symbolizing its flow, and a large yellow pendant light representing the Mānoa campus.

A feature wall displays a vertical wood grille finish, a symbolic representation of Mānoa Valley’s forests. The grille incorporates different types of wood finishing, exhibiting the diverse tree species in the valley.

The Culture Lab is a continuation of UH Mānoa’s commitment to advancing education through innovative design, technology integration, and a deep appreciation for the rich history and natural beauty of Mānoa Valley.

“When we are able to renovate classrooms not only do we increase our capacity for face-to-face learning by having more classrooms available, but we also have the opportunity to rethink how the design of a classroom can influence the success of student learners,” said Halbert.

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