The architects behind Ward Village

Internationally-acclaimed architectural firms along with revered local firms are the creatives behind Ward Village’s residential towers. Combining the firms’ decades of experiences and hundreds of noteworthy completed projects with Ward Village’s astute attention to honoring Hawaii’s natural elements and history, Ward Village’s architectural designs are set to earn awe for years to come.

By Stephanie Lopes. Updated Mar 12, 2024. | Living in Hawaii | 10 min. read

Ward Village is an award-winning coastal Honolulu community designed by an array of some the world’s most prestigious architects.

The 60-acre master planned community itself has been named the “Best-Planned Community in the United States” by Architectural Digest. It was also named the “2018 Master Planned Community of the Year” by National Association of Home Builders. And, as more and more residential towers are constructed, the awe of Ward Village’s architectural designs expands.

“A design-forward, 21st-century neighborhood, Ward Village embodies the epitome of urban and island living,” says its developer, Howard Hughes. “Ward Village features a collection of distinct high-rise residential towers designed by the world’s leading architects and a thriving community whose energy is sparked by local retail, dining, art, and entertainment.”

So, who are the architects of Ward Village? Indeed, a collection of some of the world’s leading architectural firms – along with a handful of Hawai‘i firms – have designed Ward’s residential towers.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)

The architecture, interior design and planning firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) is set to serve as the architect for six out of the 14 planned residential towers in Ward Village. SCB was founded in Chicago in 1931 and “creates forward-thinking design solutions that make a lasting impact on skylines, campuses, communities, and neighborhoods,” according to its website.

SCB also has offices in Boston, San Francisco and Seattle – and hundreds of completed architecture projects throughout the United States, including the following:

SCB is slated to add six Ward Village residential towers to its architecture portfolio.


In Ward Village, SCB’s first completed residential tower was Anaha. SCB completed Anaha alongside local architectural firm Benjamin Woo Architects, which was responsible for Anaha’s construction administration.

“Anaha is an extraordinary example of contemporary architectural place-making,” says SCB. “Anaha means ‘reflection of light’ in Hawaiian. The tower’s undulating form is inspired by the island’s artistic tradition of abstracting waves. Through a sequence of shifted and softly curved floor plates, the high-performance curtain-wall façade appears to be ever-changing in the light, like a wave shimmering in the sun.”

Before and After of Anaha.
Before and After of Anaha.

“The orientation of the tower’s long axis is placed ‘Mauka-Makai,’ or mountain to ocean, which preserves coastal views from inland vantage points. The tower is brought cleanly down to the street to mark the residential entrance. The podium’s retail and townhomes activate Kamakee Street,” continues SCB.

A water feature, an indoor-to-outdoor lobby ‘living wall’ with plants and a glass-bottomed pool above Auahi Street are other Anaha architectural features that make SCB’s architectural design stand out.

SCB has received a number of awards for Anaha’s architecture, including the following:

Victoria Place

SCB is the architect for Victoria Place – a 40-story residential tower fronting the harbor and alongside a 3.5-acre public green space.

“The design of Victoria Place is influenced by the classic, mid-century architecture of Honolulu’s prestigious clubs and estate homes. We were especially drawn to fine metal and woodwork details, as well as forms and shapes that filter light across the façade,” says Ben Wrigley, principal architect of Victoria Place with SCB.

Credit: Ward Village

A lush courtyard, an open-air double-height lobby, sunset and sunrise lanais with upscale amenities, and the residential tower’s glass walls are all elements that SCB considered in its architectural design.


SCB is also the architect of Aalii, although this Ward Village residential tower is yet to be featured on its online portfolio of projects. Based on information from Ward Village’s official website, Aalii’s architectural design was based on the values of “living smarter, living cleaner, and embracing the beauty of simplicity.”

At Aalii’s groundbreaking ceremony in October 2018, Todd Apo, Ward Village’s vice president of community development at the time, said, “‘A’ali’i is unlike anything else in the city. When it came time to naming this building, we worked closely with the Sig Zane team. After carefully studying the history, they came up with the name ‘A’ali’i, inspired by the namesake plant that’s been known to thrive in even the most difficult conditions.”

Fully furnished and with lanais and amenities, Aalli was designed for the modern urban Honolulu lifestyle.

The Park Ward Village

SCB is the architect for the soon-to-be-constructed 41-story luxury tower of The Park at Ward Village. “The Park Ward Village celebrates the intersection of nature, culture, and architecture, blurring the line between natural and built,” says SCB.

“Utilizing an expression similar to that of a lanai, restaurants and cafes seamlessly extend from the indoors to outdoors under the cover of deep overhangs, creating a vibrant and casual place that invites people to gather,” continues SCB.

“Inspired by the principles of mid-century modern design, the sense of craft and strong horizontal forms of the building’s base transition into a dynamic and sculptural 41-story tower above. The tower’s form folds inward towards the park to open up views to the ocean from the residential units. Horizontal planes in varying depths extend outward from the tower in a rhythmic series, breaking down the scale of the building and carving a chiseled vocabulary throughout its height.”

Credit: Ward Village

Kalae Ward Village

Ward Village’s tenth tower – Kalae – is being designed by SCB, as well. Unobstructed ocean views as well as country club-style amenities along with retail were some of the components when planning the construction of Kalae.

“Seamlessly integrating the indoors with the outdoors, a series of courtyards, decorative geometric motifs and screens, and framed vistas characterize the amenity experience at Kalae. The grandeur of these formal arrangements and architectural gestures are juxtaposed with more casual and intimate living spaces,” says Ben Wrigley, principal at SCB.

Mahana Ward Village

Ward Village’s 12th tower is set to be Mahana Ward Village. With the permit application already underway, SCB has already set forth Mahana’s architectural designs, which are expected to be as exceptional and luxurious as its past Ward Village projects.

Explains SCB, “Inspired by a hybrid of native palm motif and the Hawaii State Capitol's organic columns, Mahana Ward Village’s angular building design and triple-height colonnade create a unique composition that is both modern and rooted in tradition, while imbuing it with a sense of fluid movement.”

Connectivity to Victoria Ward Park, pedestrian and bike friendliness, exceptional amenities and private yet pristine residences are to be expected in SCB’s Mahana designs.

Mahana Ward Village rendering
Mahana Ward Village rendering

Ward Village Master Plan

In addition to designing award-winning Ward Village residential towers. SCB’s relationship with The Howard Hughes Corporation also includes partnering to update the Ward Village Master Plan.

States SCB, “Currently, SCB is working to study in more detail key character sites in Ward Village Master Plan including, a system of green parks and pedestrian promenades, luxury residential housing, affordable housing, transit oriented development, and a nightlife, entertainment, and market district. The concepts created for these future district expansion areas were focused on identifying the desired density, supporting walkability and connectivity, and defining a unique sense of place and identity. Creating a more walkable, bike-friendly, and a more transit-oriented district will require the evolution and enhancement of the streetscape network to encourage walking rather than driving.”

Architects Hawaii Limited (AHL)

AHL, formally known as Architects Hawaii Limited, is a full-service architecture firm based in Honolulu. AHL is adding its local and internationally-acclaimed expertise to the Ward Village neighborhood, as the firm is set to serve as architects for four residentials towers (collaborating with other internationally acclaimed firms for three out of four of the towers).

Originally established in 1946 by Englishman Cyril (Cy) W. Lemmon out of the garage of his Waikiki home, AHL grew to a Downtown Honolulu office, then a Bangkok office, then a Hong Kong branch and then back to refocus their efforts at home in Hawaii within its current Honolulu office at the Pacific Guardian Center’s Makai tower penthouse.

AHL has designed some of Hawaii’s most iconic buildings, including many new noteworthy Honolulu skyscrapers:


AHL is the sole architect of record for the construction of Ulana, which is set to offer 697 affordable, reserved housing units. Ulana will be adjacent to the 30,000-square-foot Ka Lai o Kukuluaeo Park, and AHL has designed ground-level amenities to include the Ulana Lawn, a keiki play area, a barbecue area and indoor-outdoor gathering spaces as well as space set aside for commercial and light industrial businesses.

While not much has been shared about Ulana from AHL, its architects, primarily Frederick J. Hong who has a plethora of experience serving as architect for a number of iconic Hawai‘i projects, have testified with the City and County of Honolulu to describe the Ulana project and ask for modifications to increase Ulana’s platform height.

In a September 2021 Pacific Business News story, which shared AHL’s renderings of Ulana, Kaʻiulani Sodaro, senior vice president of planning and development at Ward Village, says, “We are excited to advance quality homes for kamaaina in our vibrant and growing neighborhood. For the benefit of our community, we accelerated plans to bring these homes to market and front-load reserved housing in Ward Village as a major commitment to our long-term investment in Honolulu.”

Robert A.M. Stern Architects

Based in New York City, Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) is serving as the architect on record for the development of Ilima and Melia. The internationally-acclaimed firm with a 50+ year history will work with AHL as the local architect. Ilima and Melia are set to be Robert A.M. Stern’s first projects in Hawaii, but they have completed a plethora of notable architectural and design projects throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Asia and South America:

Ilima and Melia

While not much as been formally published about RAMSA’s inspiration behind Ilima and Melia’s designs, initial submitted renderings of Block D (Melia) and of Block E (Ilima) show two towers connected by a platform. The designs seem to draw inspiration from timeless mid-century modern architecture, like the historic IBM building next door done by renowned local architect Vladimir Ossipoff. Melia and Ilima also incorporate multi-slope roofs and colonnades and are set to blend tradition with innovation to create iconic architecture in Honolulu.

Across the street from Ala Moana Beach Park, it is expected that RAMSA’s architectural designs of Melia and Ilima will maximize ocean and Diamond Head views while also displaying that timeless yet modern and luxurious architectural style that RAMSA is known for. (Read more about the process for naming Ilima and Melia here.)

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

While Architects Hawaii Limited (AHL), was the architect of record for Aeo, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson was the design architect. Founded in 1965, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has six studios and six principal architects in Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania), Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco and New York City. The firm has received hundreds of awards, including the AIA Architecture Firm Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed upon an architectural practice by the Institute. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has a number of single-family-home legacy projects, as well as notable mixed-used residential towers:


Bohlin Cywinski Jackson says Aeo was designed to celebrate “the idea of flow, or kahe, in its textured form.” Completed in 2018, the 40-story tower housing Whole Foods Market and additional street-level retail stores along with 466 residential units was “influenced by abstracting the dynamism of the typical flow of the Hawaiian trade winds,” says the firm.

“The idea of taking a force in nature such as wind, an important element in Hawaiian culture, and abstracting it into a built form was particularly intriguing to us,” explains Tom Kirk, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson principal.

Studio Gang

Studio Gang was founded and is led by Jeanne Gang, called a leading international architect of her generation. Jeanne is a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, her alma mater, and also an author of four architecture books. Her work is exhibited throughout the world, including at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, the International Venice Architecture Biennale and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Studio Gang is headquartered in Chicago with offices in New York, San Francisco and Paris, and it has architectural masterpieces displayed throughout the world, including a number of notable mixed-use residential towers:


Ward Village’s Koula was Studio Gang’s first major project in the Hawaiian Islands, and it applies Jeanne’s renowned focus on sustainability, unique architectural curves and optimal indoor-outdoor living environments. The 41-story mixed-use tower was inspired by Hawaii’s native red sugar cane, from which it gets its name – Kō‘ula.

“The structure is this kind of changing vertical kō‘ula…,” says Gang in an Architectural Digest feature. “The way they move and twist is very beautiful, so the vertical columns respond in that way.”

Credit: Ward Village

“Visually, I’m really excited about the way the building will respond to light and shadow,” continues Gang. “I think it will have a really beautiful texture, and I also like that we are working very carefully with all the mapping for daylight and views… When you walk inside the different residences, the view is just going to open up and you can move right to the terrace. You can feel the slight rotation to the view, and that’s going to give it that extra feel that it’s not just a grid of boxy units . . . it has a flow to it.”


Arquitectonica is known “to push the limits of design with its innovative use of materials, geometry, pattern and color to introduce a new brand of humanistic modern design to the world,” according to its website. The firm has projects in nearly 60 countries on five continents and is led by principals Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Laurinda Spear.

Credit: Ward Village

Shortly after its founding in 1977, Arquitectonica quickly garnered a reputation for transforming Miami’s urban landscape. Now, the firm has offices in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, Paris, Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Manila, Lima and Sao Paulo with many noteworthy projects, including the following:


Ward Village’s Launiu is set to be Arquitectonica’s first development projects in Hawaii – bringing a bold, modern, island-inspired design to the neighborhood. The 40-story residential mixed-use tower will house 486 residences behind the undulating white-painted fins on the building’s façade.

“The natural beauty of O'ahu served as our primary design inspiration for The Launiu,” says Arquitectonica founding principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia in dezeen and in designboom. “With the neutral-toned facade and soft rippling exterior created by balconies, we sought to pay homage to the surrounding environment through an interpretative, elemental design that conveys movement, emulating the effects of water, wind or markings in the sand. The resulting concept is organic yet contemporary.”

James KM Cheng Architects & WCIT Architecture, Inc.

Ward Village’s first completed residential tower, Waiea, was constructed by JK Cheng Architects, based in Vancouver, Canada, and recognized with some of Canada’s most prestigious awards for projects like Vancouver’s Shangri-La and Shaw Tower. The firm partnered with local firm, WCIT Architecture, Inc., which is the creative behind Kakaako’s Nohona Hale Apartments and Kaanapali, Maui’s Nanea Ocean Villas and Honua Kai Resort, among other projects.


Ward Village’s Waiea was constructed in 2014 as an ultra-luxury residence. Waiea’s 171 residential units across two acres with bottom-floor retail spaces are a striking addition to Ward Village. Waiea means “water of life,” and the tower flows to the rest of Ward Village, as it is located in the neighborhood’s center on Ala Moana Boulevard.

Waiea - Before and After.
Waiea - Before and After.

“The building introduces the stories of Hawaiian fishing gods Kū‘ulakai and his son ‘Ai‘ai, along with the genealogy of Kaka‘ako is woven throughout the building’s design,” says WCIT Architecture on its website. “Its most prominent design feature is its sweeping glass facade. It is inspired by the essential life-giving role of water in Kaka‘ako’s landscape and the fishing nets used for sustenance by Hawaiians of both yesterday and today.”

AC Martin & CDS International

Ke Kilohana, constructed in 2019, was designed by California-based firm AC Martin which was founded in 1906 and known for a number of California landmarks and a number of education institution design. AC Martin partnered with longtime local Hawaii firm, CDS International, with noteworthy projects spanning country clubs to the Moana Hotel’s rehabilitation to libraries and the Bishop Museum’s Science Adventure Center.

Ke Kilohana

424 residential units, which includes affordable reserved housing units, are in this 418-foot residential tower with a Longs Drugs’ at its base and an expansive amenity deck on its eighth level. The big yellow boxes on the building’s façade are two “sky lanais” shared among residents and offering breathtaking ocean and mountain views.

The architectural design of Ke Kilohana is said to be a reflection of the surrounding Kaka‘ako community as well as Hawaii’s history. Motifs, colors and textures were inspired by Kakaako’s art community and industrial warehouses while the exterior’s window pattern and opaque walls are reminiscent of Kapa patterns used in traditional Hawaiian fabrics.

About the Architects

Some of the world’s best architects are making their mark in Ward Village – with many residential towers being the firms’ first in the islands. While all the residential towers are set to fit within Ward Village’s overall master plan, the distinctive elements of each tower – inspired by local Hawaii elements and history – will surely garner architectural accolades for years to come.

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