University of Hawaii

UH makeover continues
in courtyard project

By Diana Leone

A year ago, University of Hawaii students and faculty brainstormed about what the Manoa campus would look like "if you really liked it."

Desired attributes included attractive landscaping, cleanliness, places to sit outside and good food to eat, said Bruce Miller, who was named director of the UH Office of Sustainability last fall.

On Saturday that vision will begin to take shape in the courtyard between Sakamaki and Kuykendall halls and the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics.

As part of the third Campus Care Day, students, faculty and staff will work from 9 a.m. to noon to plant almost 1,000 plants there, including palms, bamboo, ti, ferns and ground cover. Others will clean and paint entrances to what is being tentatively called the Courtyard Cafe.

The idea to create an outdoor gathering place grew out of the university's strategic planning process last year. Though the first phase of the courtyard's renewal will be largely aesthetic, Miller insists it is more than a beautification project.


The planned pond next to the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics will use water recycled from the building's cooling system that would otherwise go down the drain, pumped by solar-powered pumps.

Plantings will involve drought-hardy and native species and will be watered with water-efficient drip irrigation. Permeable paving stones will allow water to get to tree roots. Sustainability, Miller said, includes making places that are "alive, vibrant and have a sense of positive and progressive movement forward into a better future, a place where people want and like to be."

The first steps in the courtyard's makeover happened last fall when several clunky construction trailers were removed and service workers were banned from parking vehicles there.

"That really changed the whole feel of that area," said campus landscaping manager Roxanne Adams.

Rocks and mounds of earth were added to give an organic, natural feel to an area that formerly was all concrete. Plantings should move the transformation along, Adams said.

Groups of tables and chairs will follow, as will an expanded offering of foods from local vendors. Currently the area has one coffee kiosk.

Miller noted that nearby buildings hold classes in science, the arts and English, so many students pass through the courtyard on a daily basis.

"We want to create a place where people can stop, gather, have good food and socialize," he said.

To volunteer for the Campus Care Day, call 956-8686. To find out more about UH sustainability projects, contact Miller at 956-9346 or

University of Hawaii

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