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Coming Soon: Kakaako Agora Indoor Park


Kakaako Agora is located on Cooke Street, between the Hawaii Community Development Authority headquarters and This Is It Bakery & Deli, across from Fisher Hawaii.
photo: Courtesy Interisland Terminal

The great thing about ideas is that they live within people, not walls. So even as condos go up, murals get repainted and businesses cycle through the ever-changing Kakaako, ideas are manifesting.

Interisland Terminal, the innovative arts team behind iiGallery and R&D (a community workspace/coffee shop), is full of ideas. When the community said a tearful goodbye to R&D last December, the wheels were already turning on a new project, an indoor park called Kakaako Agora.

In essence, the Agora (which is Greek for a meeting or gathering place) is a piazza, or city square. Wei Fang, principal of Interisland Terminal, envisions it as “a place in the urban core where you can sit—a shaded place of respite where you can sit down and meet a friend. It’s completely open,” she says. It’ll also double as a space community groups can rent during non-public park hours for events, presentations, film screenings and the like. Think downtown’s Tamarind Park, only indoors.

“We went to [Japanese architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow] and proposed the idea of collaborating on a project in Honolulu,” Fang says, though, at the time, they didn’t know what it would be. That was more than a year and a half ago. Since then, Interisland Terminal has roped in local groups Collaborative Studios, Heavy Metal Hawaii, Sunworks Construction, Hui Ku Maoli Ola (a native-plant nursery in Kaneohe) and Sudokrew (a web-technology solutions group) to bring in their expertise and optimize a space for the public to basically hang out in. “It’s not a co-working space,” Fang says. And though you’ll probably catch Our Kakaako’s free, high-speed wi-fi from the area, don’t expect to find plugs for your laptops, or even work tables. “It’s an informal place to gather ...a shaded space in Kakaako that’s not a commercial space.”

If the concept sounds a little vague, it’s for two reasons: 1) The project will continue to evolve to meet the public’s needs once it’s functioning, and 2) Urban Honolulu hasn’t mastered the art of sitting still. Piazzas are literally foreign to us, but Kakaako Agora has the potential to bring the age-old idea of a city square to the up-and-coming district.

To celebrate this first month that Kakaako Agora is open, Interisland Terminal is holding a series of free events (called June Ka-Boom) to show how the Agora could be a venue for a diverse range of activities, including a reading of a play from Kumu Kahua Theatre’s next season, a Honolulu Printmakers installation, an all-ages music performance, a documentary film screening and a speaker series.

Did you know? Agoraphobia is the fear of public places, not to be confused with Al-Gore-aphobia, the fear of climate change. Learn more about the Kakaako Agora at kakaakoagora.com.

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Honolulu Magazine August 2020
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