With a Stunning Wavy Glass Facade, Anaha Towers Sustainably in Honolulu

Nature is a crucial part of existence in Hawaii, and Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)’s new 40-floor residential tower in Honolulu, called Anaha, is inspired by just that. “We work on towers in a lot of different contexts around the country but still try to make them feel like they are of that place,” says Strachan Forgan, principal architect at SCB. At Anaha, Forgan and team found creative ways to reimagine the nearby ocean waves throughout the project’s design.

“Anaha” means “the reflection of light” in Hawaiian, and Forgan aimed to exemplify that with a wavy facade that allows light to transform the building throughout the day. “We really wanted to capture that spirit of looking out toward the ocean if you’re surfing and catching the light shimmering on the caps of the wave.”

Photo: Nic Lehoux

Anaha is split into two buildings—the tall, wavy structure and a shorter, podium-like building—and each connects with its surroundings differently. While the podium aligns with the urban streets, encouraging retail shopping and vibrant streetlife, the tower’s views bring unmatched access to the ocean and mountains.

Anaha itself is a small part of a much bigger project. The structure is the first of many future buildings to make up Honolulu’s Ward Village, a project that’s set to become the country’s largest LEED-ND Platinum district when completed. For Forgan, that meant sustainability had to be at the forefront of design. “The client was really committed to trying something that had never been tried before, to get the whole of the master plan LEED-certified at a high level,” he says. The project emphasizes the adapted reuse of urban sites, connection to transit, walkable streets, and overall energy efficiency.

“We had a very inspiring client and very interesting project brief that really came together in a unique building,” Forgan says. “This is certainly one of those projects that really stands out to me in my career.”

Photo: Nic Lehoux

Full of Life

The large green wall in the building’s lobby further connects building residents to nature. “We’re really conscious when we make these buildings that they are great places to live,” Forgan says. “Adding that type of softness and vegetation inside the building gave it a uniquely welcoming feeling.” The wall is made up of nearly 8,000 plants, he says, and is one of the largest green walls in Hawaii, if not the country.

Photo: Nic Lehoux

Making Waves

The glass that creates the building’s wave-like facade presented Architect Strachan Forgan one of the biggest obstacles—but ultimately greatest successes. To create the gentle exterior curves, the glass needed to be radiused to present as soft and flowing. But given the sunny climate in Hawaii, it also needed to be incredibly high performing to reduce the amount of heat entering the building. To find the perfect glass, Forgan and his team had to look to cutting edge glass technology. “When the glass panels were put on, you could finally get a sense of the softness and the interlocking form,” he says. “They almost instantly transformed the building, and it was everything we’d hoped for.

Photo: Nic Lehoux


Forgan wanted to add a dramatic feature at Anaha. The pool hangs 18 feet in the air off the edge of the building, and its glass front makes it nearly impossible to differentiate where the pool ends and the ocean begins. “This is the first time I’ve ever worked on a building where the building itself has become sort of an Instagram star,” Forgan says. “The Anaha pool has been trending on Instagram for a while now, and I love going on there and seeing people having fun in the pool and taking cool shots.”


Published in gb&d magazine, print and digital — 5/1/19


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