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Canopies provide shade for apartment complex roof

Features | September 1, 2009 | By:

Retrofitted shade structures screen rooftop views of autos at this Hawaiian luxury condominium tower—the shade itself is extra.

Keola La’i condominiums has the quiet good fortune of fullfilling the prime directive of real estate: location, location, location. Occupying an entire block in the Waikiki district of Honolulu, Hawaii, the 43-story apartment complex is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life but within walking distance of downtown. Built in the 2006–2007 boom time of real estate development, Keola La’i has panoramic views of the ocean, nearby mountains and the city.

Keola La’i has become a premier mixed-use complex at the edge of Honolulu’s cultural landscape. Architects Durrant–Media 5’s integrated arrangement on a tight city block places 350 apartment units atop a five-story car park and a 900m2 retail area. Although the units and the support space amenities are pleasing, the city mandated that vehicles on the car park roof must be dissembled somehow to provide a “visual distraction” for the residents looking down from above.

Because the shade structures were added late in the construction timetable, no suitable anchoring could be devised to fix cantilevered supports for a post-tensioned shade sail design originally favored by the client. Instead, local fabricator Tropical J’s Inc. worked carefully with Compusoft Engineering and formfinding software to design a system of 54 framed fabric mesh panels fitted to seven steel structures that provide a maximum of appeal as well as visual distraction. According to Tropical J’s president Gary Barnes, “Hundreds of unique steel plates, hinges and tabs were designed and installed to accommodate the asymmetry of the existing parking roof,” all made economically with the aid of the formfinding software.

The resultant canopies are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they’re practical too. Those residents who park on the roof level of the ramp can expect cooler vehicles, same as cars that normally are found on sheltered levels below.

One final note: the name of the complex, Keola La’i, means “the calm, peaceful, contented life” in Hawaiian. Apropos in this laid-back community.

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