animated gif of building concept along the Ala Wai canal
animated gif of building concept along the Ala Wai canal

Envisioning In Situ Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategies for a Densely Developed Coastal Community, Waikīkī

Co-INVESTIGATORS: Charles Fletcher
Graduate Fellows:
Josephine Briones, Ireland Castillo
Sea Grant Partners: Eileen Peppard, Dolan Eversole

Waikīkī, the economic hub of Hawai‘i’s tourism, is located at low elevation, adjacent to the ocean. It is threatened by flooding for multiple reasons: sea level rise, high tide flooding, high wave events, and/or periods of rain. There are anecdotal reports of basements and parking garages that flood regularly in Waikīkī under present conditions. As a major tourist destination, Waikīkī is too important to immediately retreat from sea level rise and will need to rely on an “in-place” adaptation strategy. Until this project started, no such strategy had been described in detail.

Response: This project is providing visionary and quantitative details to move the adaptation discussion forward. This research converges science with design to create conceptual design renderings as part of the near-term research to help visualize sea level rise adaptation methods, compel community discussion, and motivate large-scale decision making toward a positively adaptive built environment in densely developed coastal communities. In addition, the team is creating and will share the design brief used to guide the conceptual designs, which are based on input from stakeholders, precedent studies’ best practices, and emerging resilience guidelines.

Result: A design brief and initial renderings of adaptation strategies were drafted. Four two-hour workshops were held in 2021 with a wide range of stakeholder participants. Based on stakeholder input, two graduate fellows have created new renderings depicting adaptation strategies for two sites in Waikīkī with estimated sea level rise by the years 2050 and 2100. These renderings were presented in a public webinar on April 1, 2022. This project research is continuing, using a beachfront site.

2021 Workshop on Potential Flood Adaptation Strategies

If you missed our 2021 workshops, you can view the on-demand webinar made from a workshop recording. If you would like to earn an AIA continuing education learning unit (HSW) for the webinar, please fill-out the webinar survey. The links are on the buttons below.

2021 Summary of Stakeholder Feedback

A total of 71 stakeholders attended the workshops in 2021. Stakeholder comments from the break-out group discussions were summarized in a report.

2022 Presentation of Site-Specific Application of Flood Adaptation Strategies

University of Hawai’i Sea Grant College Program graduate research fellows, Josephine Briones and Ireland Castillo, from the School of Architecture presented architectural renderings depicting potential sea level rise adaptation strategies for two sites in Waikīkī. Expert panelists, Lisa Rapp (architect, principal at AHL) and Randall Wakumoto (engineer, Honolulu Department of Facility Maintenance) discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the strategies as they apply to each site. The audience of 121 stakeholders was polled for opinions. Questions and comments were taken from the audience.

Slides, poll results,  on-demand webinar video & poll coming soon!