Hawaii architect Vernon Inoshita offers his take on Kakaako

Vernon Inoshita, the head of Honolulu-based Design Partners Inc., one of Hawaii’s largest architecture firms, feels that the growing Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako is fairly well planned.

After all, he’s well qualified to know this after living in one of the existing condominium high-rises in the area, and being involved in planned housing projects there, including Alexander & Baldwin’s The Collection.

“I’ve seen all of the action,” Inoshita told PBN. “If we can put in a little more park [spaces] in the mix, that would help with the livability.”

Inoshita noted that high-rises are just a way of urban living. Kakaako stands to gain thousands of new residents in at least 10 new high-rises to be built in the area in the next decade.

“Our density is nothing compared to the Mainland,” Inoshita, who lives in the Hokua condominium, which was developed by the Kobayashi Group and The MacNaughton Group, said. “People are afraid and usually equate height with degraded quality of life, but that’s certainly not the case.”

The University of Southern California alumnus, who has a degree in architecture, is the owner and founder of his 35-year-old firm, the third largest firm on Oahu after Group 70 International Inc. and Architects Hawaii Ltd., according to PBN research.

Inoshita, who is the only original partner still at the firm, said that Design Partners could get bigger, but keeping it mid-sized, with 55 employees, is just fine. The firm’s 8,000-square-foot office is located at the Kapiolani Business Plaza at 1580 Makaloa St., near Ala Moana Center.

“We could get bigger, but it’s a different type of office once you do that,” he said.

In terms of where the economy is headed, Inoshita said that Hawaii is coming to the bottom third of a seven-year cycle.

“We envision, that in two years, we will get to the bottom of the market,” he said. “I just can tell from the projects that we work on. It’s not like the heyday two years ago.”

Duane Shimogawa Reporter – Pacific Business News

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