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Design guidelines

Design standards and guidelines address the quality of all built environments that support the university enterprise. When applied to the development of RFPs, CIPs, academic and administrative programming, RIM projects, and routine building modifications, these standards and guidelines seek to ensure the optimization of physical, spatial, financial, economic, and operational resources through evidence-based planning, design, construction, and maintenance.

Campus Planning

Campus planning

In 2020, the university unveiled Mānoa 2025, its ten-year strategic plan, an especially suitable academic framework within which to understand these physical design guidelines. The strategic plan seeks to ground Mānoa’s commitment to the defining characteristics of a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning, which references deeply rooted cultural practices and perspectives on both the poetic and practical interdependency of natural and human systems, illuminating an ethos of community and care at the heart of the university’s enterprise. The plan presents four goals: becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning (NHPoL); enhancing student success; excellence in research; and building a sustainable and resilient campus environment.


Among related Native Hawaiian values, it anchors its mission in the principle of “E hoʻomālamamalama i kō mālama” — “cultivating the potential within”   — to grow and extend UH Mānoa’s premier teaching, research, discovery, community engagement, and service, enriched in its summoning of local and regional ways of knowing.

REVISED 06/13/2022

Gathering typologies

Gathering typologies

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa offers a diverse range of indoor and outdoor gathering and collaboration spaces across campus. These important spaces constitute the connective tissue of campus life. They enable students, faculty, staff, and visitors to enjoy comfortable meetings and interactions, both structured and spontaneous, in small groups or large— formal, informal, personal, and professional—supporting collaboration and exchange in multiple settings: benches, booths, conference rooms, flexible classrooms, courtyards, lounges, auditoriums, theaters, even stadiums.
Diverse meeting types call for diverse space types, sizes, architectural treatments, and furnishings.

This volume of the UH Mānoa Campus Framework Design Guidelines describes gathering spaces based on a spatial and programmatic gradient encompassing four conditions: open, closed, public, and private. The location of a space, room, or area on this gradient helps determine the basic considerations and requirements enabling planners and designers to optimize gathering experience for all scales, users, and contexts.


REVISED 06/13/2022

Classrooms and class labs

Classrooms and class labs

The unique core mission of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa suggests the need for environments that serve five interdependent spatial domains: instruction, research, administration, campus life, and host culture. The “Classroom and Class Labs” volume addresses basic requirements for all UH Mānoa instructional space and technology—furniture, room configuration, lighting, audio-visual equipment, wall composition (including windows, doors, and writable surfaces), floor and ceiling systems, ventilation, acoustics, accessibility, safety, and security, among others. Design for maximum flexibility is the central recommendation for all new and renovated classroom space. Likewise, design guidelines for class labs seek to maximize flexibility within the pedagogical requirements of all disciplines and programs requiring bench-based coursework.

These Design Guidelines appear after an unprecedented change in the environmental context of university instruction, indicating a new calculus for the management and design of virtual and physical space. Among the many lessons universities around the world learned from this experience, one conclusion is clear: 21st century higher education presupposes the ongoing evolution of instructional space and technology. Conventional assumptions about spatial organization, buildings, and their relationship to diverse scenes of teaching intimate new and hybrid instructional practices, new and hybrid techniques, and new and hybrid typologies.


REVISED 06/27/2022

Research labs

Research labs

These research lab space guidelines describe how to strategically allocate campus space and support decision-making that maximizes the availability and efficiency of research labs. Research lab design guidelines shall serve as a resource for faculty, staff, and designers during the planning and design phases of a project.

Special-purpose equipment and room configuration characterize typical laboratory facilities and connect research activities to a particular discipline or a closely related group of disciplines. These activities may support individual or group work with or without supervision.

The university will review research space allocation at least every three years and, if indicated by metrics, adjust assigned lab space to ensure adequate and efficient use an ongoing basis. Space can be reassigned at the discretion of the Vice President for Administration (VPA), in consultation with the UHM Space Recommendation Committee.
The move toward large shared laboratory space is one we support and encourage for all scientific research at UH Mānoa. Infrastructure, space flexibility, and the waxing and waning of grant activity, etc., influence efficiency and therefore allocation.

These research lab design guidelines aim to complement the designer’s knowledge in the field; they do not cover all regulatory issues nor all design situations. It is the designer’s responsibility to understand criteria essential to the development of the specific lab type for each project. These guidelines and recommendations aim to support the design process on a case-by-case basis and provide sustainable and energy-efficient laboratory facilities. 

Manoa Space Flight Laboratory.jpg

REVISED 06/24/2022 - DRAFT

Office and administrative spaces

Office and administrative spaces

The guidelines help estimate the actual size of space needed for accommodating and assessing efficiency whenever concerns arise about the adequacy of existing space or dedicated areas in future buildings.

Flexibility is a key factor in the design of gathering spaces, likewise the guiding principle in the configuration of spaces and furniture layouts; whenever possible, design configurations that can change as the the work environment evolves. A modular planning approach preserves office space flexibility to accommodate use and/or relocation over time.

The following administrative and academic office layouts show recommended assignable space based on position type, and define the recommended range of assignable square feet (ASF) for persons in specific roles.

Information Technology Center_CEI Hawaii_4.jpg

REVISED 10/14/2022



Furniture is critical to the efficiency of any work or academic environment. The design guidelines serve to establish consistent and efficient furniture parameters and aim to support UH Mānoa’s Guiding Principles.

The goal is to promote an ergonomic and healthy work environment, maximize sustainability, provide high quality and durable furniture solutions, and enable flexibility in space design and layout to accommodate the changing needs in pedagogy.


REVISED 06/13/2022



The physical character of the campus has evolved since 1907, with a variety of buildings that reflect the architectural styles of their time. These guidelines are intended to strengthen the coexistence of the architectural history and future buildings throughout campus.

As an institutional identity, color is a feature that reinforces the character and individuality of UH Mānoa’s campus. It is the responsibility of the project architect to represent the core of UH Mānoa in such a way as to be an interpreter through the physical manifestation of the building and its finishes.

The Color design guidelines aim to improve the overall aesthetic character and visual unity of the UH Mānoa campus as a whole. These guidelines also provide a designated color palette, and establish a selection process and criteria for color choices to be applied on to campus architecture, repairs and alterations, modernizations, and work in new and existing buildings.

The objectives in this document speak to the improvements and changes for the future campus development nd their alignment with the guiding principles of the campus framework. The strategy-based criteria and preferred recommendations are intended to be followed when selecting colors for an architectural project. The specific scope of a project will determine the extent of the applicability of the design guidelines to a project. It shall be up to the individual designer to present a case for the color selection.


REVISED 06/13/2022

Signage & Way-Finding (Under development)

  • demarcation of historical, geographical, and cultural places, spaces, buildings

  • cultural enrichment through directional maps, narratives, and building names 

  • sense of place, diversity, identity, information

Energy (Under development)

  • power to run machinery and equipment at all scales

  • institutional infrastructure, facilities, communications, campus operations

  • efficiency, conservation, renewable resources, emergency power generation


MEP (Under development)

  • ensuring healthful, safe, operational systems and facilities

  • quality, volume, and circulation of water, lighting, chilled air, and ventilation

  • optimal indoor and outdoor air, water, and power distribution 

Campus arboretum & landscape (Under development)

  • maintaining flora, topography, views, vistas, light, shadow, shade, and water

  • integration of the natural and built environments

  • interaction with Hawaiʻi’s singular natural plenitude

Campus infrastructure (Under development)

  • maintaining all integrated environmental services and utilities

  • quality and continuity of physical systems 

  • health, well-being, access, efficiency 

Parking & private transportation (Under development)

  • distribution and maintenance of campus roads, parking spaces, and parking facilities

  • accommodation and ADA-compliant access for all members of the university community who depend upon motorized vehicles as part of their campus work, life, and business

  • strategic, pedestrian-oriented location of centralized parking lots and structures

Public transportation (Under development)

  • affordable access to campus for all community members and visitors

  • distribution of primary and secondary transit hubs serving all walkable campus zones

  • reduced dependency on private transportation and parking

Public safety (Under development)

  • campus-wide health, safety, and well-being

  • 24/7 confidence in the campus as a perimeter of security

  • accessible and secure facilities, maximum hours of operation, distribution of emergency call boxes, rapid and unimpeded emergency response

Residential life (Under development)

  • safe, affordable housing for students and faculty on or near central campus

  • recruitment and retention, elevated quality of private and public academic and social life

  • convenience, campus identity, round-the-clock residential and community amenities

Neighborhood adjacencies (Under development)

  • well-tended campus boundary conditions

  • positive relations with immediate institutional, commercial and residential neighbors

  • porosity without compromising security through transitions in scale, program, character

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