PACE at Walter Dods, Jr. RISE Center

A space to sprout.

With an overreliance on one industry, Hawai’i is making serious inroads into diversifying its economy – and innovation is key. A shining light is Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE) for the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. The PACE at Walter Dods, Jr. RISE Center was developed to support this program with a creative and energetic environment.

This live-learn-work community strives to nurture a resilient workforce that creates value through venture creation or within established organizations by unleashing the entrepreneurial potential of its students.

Inspired by this mission, AHL provided interior design services for The PACE at Walter Dods, Jr. RISE Center as part of its 1% Pro Bono program.  AHL’s 1% ProBono program is part of the national 1% program of Public Architecture which connects nonprofits with architecture and design firms willing to give their time pro bono.

The interior design team drew upon UH’s reputation for research excellence in earth, ocean, space, and agriculture. The islands spark curiosity, nurture innovation, and teach us about the wonders of nature. Hawai’i's natural landscape and surrounding ocean symbolize the cycle of nurture and growth.

Symbolizing PACE and its vitality, the collaborative meeting rooms are layered with kupukupu ferns and saturated with color. The native kupukupu fern is one of the first plants to appear in otherwise barren lava beds. Kupu in Hawaiian means “to sprout”, and hula halau has used this fern in their wrist, ankle, and head lei with the hope that knowledge will take root and sprout within the dancer. For PACE, the kupukupu conveys growth, resiliency, strength, and determination.

Flexible spaces supporting this program include two conference rooms, a private phone booth, a recording studio for creating podcasts, music, or voiceovers, an open lounge space, and an adjoining classroom with modular walls that open to create large open space. Furniture solutions include movable lounge and meeting types in various postures and folding assembly chairs (in storage) that can be utilized for large events. 

Neutral tones surround the rest of the space, representing the distance linking Hawai’i to the rest of the world. Colorful accents at collaborative groupings suggest the impacts of PACE – with its goals and aspirations to foster and sproutknowledge, growth, strength, and resiliency in Hawai’i, – and to share and collaborate beyond our shores.

"Thank you for saying YES and then hitting it out of the park at every turn! I wish we could capture the “wow” each time someone turns the corner to our space for the first time and the “aww” when we share the design story and incorporation ofthe kupukupu fern. We love our new space at RISE! And, we loved working with you two and the rest of your team – you all are amazing ladies that know how to get it done!”

–Sandra Fujiyama, Executive Director, Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship(PACE) at UH at Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business

project details


Honolulu, Hawaii