The Former “Director of Public Outreach” of a DC based Train Organization Proposes a “Heiau” in Waikiki

Updated April 8, 2020

Above. Ho’okuleana Design ©2016, 2017

AboveHo’okuleana Design ©2016, 2017


Above. Diagrammatic map that show features of the Ho’okuleana Design ©2016, 2017. To see close-up of drawing, download JPEG file and open it in Photo Gallery or Windows Photo Viewer.

Ala Wai Watershed Special Resource Study Report, February 15, 2017

Click the above link to read the full PDF document
which contains the impetus for the Ho’okuleana Design ©2016, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

In your design, you put a “heiau,” or an ancient Hawaiian place of worship, which in modern times, a new one has never been built. Why a heiau?”

In ancient Hawaii, there were more “heiaus” in existence than in present day. In the future, “heiaus” cannot be put back at where they initially were, because a hotel, an office building, or condominium complex sits on the former lands of “heiaus.” But, moving forward, the use of reclaimed land is an excellent way to add land, without the need to disturb existing properties that once had a “heiau. Then, those that work in the hospitality industry need not feel any conflict between their employer’s real estate interests and their personal cultural and religious practices.

Regarding the adding of a new “heiau,” those in the modern architecture industry know to allot space on a site for a desired future building, just in case, even if its final details are unknown or “to be determined.”

Regarding the design of a “heiau,” according to ancient Hawaiian principles, people cannot own land. A property can be under a person’s care, but property cannot be “owned.” So, likewise, no one needs to “own” the heiau’s design.

Therefore, the “heiau” location and design should go through a different design vetting process than the rest of the design. Therefore, in the drawings of the “Ho’okuleana Design” ©2016, 2017, space is given for a “heiau,” so there can be discussion among you, the reader, of its location and design.

Spiritually and culturally, the presence of a “heiau” along with the new taro patches and fishponds in Waikiki gives more opportunities and ways to honor Lono in a befitting manner.

Did you submit your design to the University of Hawaii’s Make the Ala Wai Awesome Student Design Challenge?

No, because I am not a student, I did not submit my design. However, the deadline for submissions for the design competition was motivation enough to get the “Ho’okuleana Design” ©2016, 2017 published and copyrighted before the deadline for student submissions for Make the Ala Wai Awesome Student Design Challenge.

That student deadline was March 17, 2017, and I copyrighted my design before that date. See below the “Certificate of Registration” issued by the United States Register of Copyrights for the “Ho’okuleana Design” ©2016, 2017.

Often, design competitions are a way for an organization to gather many ideas and then to take ownership of the winning design idea. Therefore, by me not being involved with the University of Hawaii’s Make the Ala Wai Awesome Student Design Challenge in any shape or form, the University of Hawaii cannot own the “Ho’okuleana Design” ©2016, 2017 or “Ho’okuleana Design.”

Regardless, if rules were bent to allow a non-student submission, the submission of “Ho’okuleana Design” would have been too extensive for the submission requirements of the design contest.

Due to the immensity of the Ala Wai Problem, the people that hold the competition would not know how to look at the “Ho’okuleana Design.” If given the opportunity, researchers can understand the environmental problem. Architects and civil engineers can grasp the civil engineering problem of the Ala Wai as well.

Since I have started on the journey to solve the “Ala Wai Problem,” there are less than a handful of people, I am one of them, who can grasp both the environmental and the civil engineering solutions to the Ala Wai Problem. The reason is that I started a second career as a conservationist/wildlife biologist in addition to my formal training as an architect.

Some engineers, scientists, and conservationists spend all their professional lives to work on pressing environmental problems. However, the University of Hawaii is asking for college students with limited experiences to solve the Ala Wai Problem when professionals with decades of expertise cannot solve? In other words, a professional let alone a student cannot provide a realistic design solution four hours or even a month after being presented with the Ala Wai problem. 

There is a positive effect from the student competition though. Given that the University of Hawaii has a complicated status with the State of Hawaii, the Make the Ala Wai Awesome Student Design Challenge was helpful in that it did get concerned designers, such as myself, to start to work on solutions. The Design Challenge got designers not only to recognize that the Ala Wai is a problem, but that designers, individually, must act!

Also, the Design Challenge was a successful public relations campaign that made the average citizen recognize that “Yes, the Ala Wai is a huge problem!” Instead of just relegating the Ala Wai problem to the environmental and scientific community, the Make the Ala Wai Awesome Student Design Challenge brought the Ala Wai problem to the forefront!

Have you seen the winning design?

No. If a design is any good, some aspects of it do repeat itself in another person’s designs, even if the two designers do not know about each other’s design.

When it comes to whose design is whose, the “Ho’okuleana Design” ©2016, 2017, was copyrighted in December 2016. So legally, if there are the same components in two designs, whoever copyrighted the redundant design component first is the owner of the intellectual property.

You are not Hawaiian; how can you design these Hawaiian structures?

Even if one is not Hawaiian blooded, one can be Hawaiian at heart. History shows there are a lot of people who do not have one drop of Hawaiian blood, who still advocated for Hawaii, residents of Hawaii, part-Hawaiians, and native Hawaiians!
To advocate well, community outreach is particularly important. With time, the appropriate and meaningful community input process should take place.

I have feedback for you, how should I send my comments?

Send all comments to

Emy Louie, Consulting Services

At the bottom of this blog:
Leave a reply.


USA phone number:


Volunteers are needed to assist with community input and feedback sessions.  Please inquire!

What if I like most of the design, but I have a few issues with it? Also, I am not keen on creating some “National Park” for this area.

The idea of a type of National Park has been explained in the Ala Wai Watershed Special Resource Study Report dated February 15, 2017. Ultimately, the people will decide.

Keep in mind, the idea of some type of National Park can be addressed separately from the Ho’okuleana Design ©2016, 2017.

Left. Heritage residences; Center. “Hale”;   Bottom Right. Taro patches and fishponds are in the foreground; Background. Tantalus Mountains.

A Chinese American, Emy Louie (雷慧妮) was born in Hong Kong and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i. She graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in 1991 and earned a degree in Architecture.

In 1993, Ms. Louie relocated to the mainland United States and from 2007 to 2012, she hosted her radio show to interview the movers and shakers of sustainable design and green building and taught continuing education classes to design professionals.

She is president of Emy Louie, Consulting Services, which works on design, conservation, and environmental projects. Since 2018, Ms. Louie spends her time in Honolulu and Central America to do environmental field research.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s