Metropolis Magazine Cites Green Sand's Win by Brian Kossen

The industry leading publication notes the importance of sustainable design in urban settings.

Courtyard Living

A Portland-based competition announces the winning proposals that promote high-density housing.

By Linda Baker

Portland is widely recognized as an urban planning and design leader. In 1974, the city council killed plans for a highway and instead used the federal funding to create the first modern day light rail system. Six years later, the city became the first in the nation to create an urban growth boundary to contain sprawl. Nevertheless, in the 21st century, Portland faces many of the crises common to the contemporary American metropolis: lack of affordable housing, declining numbers of families with children, and rapid growth at the suburban-rural fringe.

Enter the Portland Courtyard Housing Design Competition, whose winning entries were announced in late November. Sponsored by the city, the competition promotes courtyard housing as an affordable way of increasing neighborhood densities without sacrificing public space and environmental sustainability. The courtyard model also extends Portland’s tradition of street oriented urbanism. “Suburban houses avoid the street,” said Mark Gillem, a competition director and a professor of architecture at the University of Oregon. “The courtyard can engage it.”

The competition drew 257 entries from 15 countries and 35 states and featured two submission categories based on site dimensions and locations: a 100’ by 100’ Portland infill site (Inner Site), and a 95’ by 180’ East Portland suburban site (Eastern Site). Both categories required one parking space per unit.

Among the winning entries, innovative features include multi-use parking areas, which encourage children’s play in spaces traditionally reserved for the car, explains David Miller, a competition juror and a principal at Miller Hull Partnership in Seattle. Flexible floor plans accommodate non-traditional and growing families while clear transitions between public and private spaces demarcate the boundaries necessary for high-density living.

Despite the common theme, the entries encompassed a range of contemporary and traditional architectural styles, says Gillem. For example, a commendation award was given to a design that stacks recycled shipping containers around a courtyard framed by wood trellises, eco-roofs, and pedestrian bridges. The Portland merit award winner showcases “future proofing,” in which a starter house—boxy and modern with an ancillary rental unit—evolves into a single family residence, and then, finally, into multi-generational quarters.

The city aims to build a couple of the designs to spur innovation among developers. Courtyard housing distributes construction costs, provides a safe place for children to play, and builds community. “It’s about livable affordable densities,” says Gillem.


Eastern Site Merit Award
Matthew Goyke, Steven Gangwes, Morris Onishi, Ethan Levine, and Rhonda Goyke—Honolulu, HI

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Green Sand Inc Wins Portland Courtyard Housing Design Award by Brian Kossen

On November 14th, 2007, the city of Portland selected the winners of The Portland Courtyard Housing Design Competition. Everyone can be proud that Honolulu's very own Green Sand Inc. was a winner.

Green Sand Inc. is very pleased to announce that the Portland Courtyard Housing Design Competition selected our entry as one of the winning designs. Portland asked for courtyards that will help keep families with children inside the city’s neighborhoods. Green Sand Inc. was challenged with designing a space that is family friendly, aesthetically integrated into the neighborhood, and provides environmental sustainable features. With our 100% LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) staff, we felt confident that we could answer Portland’s needs.

We designed a seven-unit dream home that contains strong family features, safe and private play areas, that utilizes low-cost energy efficient designs such as day lighting and unique renewable onsite energy sources. This design will be published and displayed throughout the city of Portland, with possible funding provided to adapt our design to building sites.


Eastern Site Merit Award
Matthew Goyke, Steven Gangwes, Morris Onishi, Ethan Levine, and Rhonda Goyke—Honolulu, HI

See more info and photos >

View pdf overview of project >

Visit the competition website >

Carbon neutrality can help save planet by Brian Kossen

Rhonda Goyke on how taking steps toward carbon neutrality can help save the planet

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow's call to leave a lasting contribution has always had a nice, easy ring to it, which explains its popularity as a piece of familiar verse.

However in today's world, with the very real fears of global warming and the disastrous effect it is having on the planet, we need to turn these lines around. If we really want to leave a fitting legacy for those who come after us, if we really want to mark our presence on this planet, we need to be sure that we do everything we can to reduce and soften our footprint.

And that is exactly what drove our modest team at Green Sand Inc. to strive and achieve carbon-neutral status — neutralizing the effect of our greenhouse gas emissions so that our company's operations no longer contribute to global warming.

We'd like to share our personal experience in doing what we could as a company to offset and reduce carbon emissions in the hope that others will consider taking the same journey toward neutralizing the negative impact of their activities on the environment.

The first step is making the commitment to go carbon neutral. Most people postpone this decision because they think it is difficult and time consuming. But, I would encourage even non-believers to get onboard. Carbon-neutral programs support reforestation and the development of renewable energy, and that's good news for our over-burdened planet.

The second step is action. It sounds technical but it isn't that difficult. Don't worry. A lot of the work has already been done for you, and there are several providers that will help set you on the path to carbon neutrality. Our research showed that Car was the best partner for a firm our size and was affordable. But your needs may be different and may require a different provider.

I would encourage using a program that is audited. Any one of the other organizations we short-listed and researched may be right for you, and we will be happy to share that research with you.

Third, it is important to understand that whatever you do must be something that would not otherwise have been done to help reduce carbon emissions or release renewable energy for wider distribution. There are systems in place to measure your organization's CO2 emissions, including calculating the impact of any air travel you do, cans of soda you consume, your use of air-conditioning and lighting, the paperwork you generate and more.

In addition to reducing your energy usage, there are ways to take personal responsibility to offset carbon emissions caused by your daily activities, such as the elecriticy needed to run your household or business. You can take this personal repsonsibility through offsets to to neutralize the impact of what you do — and doing so puts you on a path to carbon neutrality.

Hard offsets are outright payments, such as for the installation of a solar photovoltaic panel. They are independently monitored and cannot be resold so that someone else also claims credit for it.

Soft offsets are financial contributions you choose to make that help underwrite a broad, less trackable but no less real effort to reduce carbon emissions through education or social activism or group and neighborhood activity. You will be making a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions if you help shape legislation or spearhead the adoption of environmentally friendly practices in this way. The impact may be far greater than that of your hard offsets but they are considered soft simply because they cannot be easily measured.

This article is a good example of a soft offset. We hope that it will trigger a chain reaction of efforts by others to achieve carbon neutrality in ways that we may never hear about. Or maybe we will. Because we'd be happy to help anyone interested in doing what we did to achieve carbon neutrality. We know, as we hope you will, too, that in doing so we can work together to leave smaller footprints in the sand.

Rhonda Goyke is vice president and co-owner of Green Sand Inc., a Honolulu-based architecture firm that combines the practice of architecture with environmental counsel and design. She wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

Eco-Friendly Neighborhood Features Bike Paths by Brian Kossen

Eco-Friendly Neighborhood - Mehana at Kapolei featured as "smart growth" community & eco-friendly neighborhood

As the concept of green building begins to catch on, and energy-efficient products such as solar water panels, compact flourescent light bulbs and water conserving toilets go mainstream, local builders are taking environmentally-friendly housing to the next level.

Opinion Article written by Matthew Goyke for the Honolulu Advertiser by Brian Kossen

As a featured commentator in the May 3, 2007 edition of The Honolulu Advertiser, Matthew Goyke discusses taking the humanist approach toward architecture and using Hawaii's unique qualities and culture as a guideline for professional excellence.
Architecture as expression of community

By Matthew Goyke

This year's Pritzker Prize, the highest honor in the field of architecture, went to British architect Richard Rogers. One of the hallmarks of a Richard Rogers project is the way it invites people to read the building and how it works. To that end, Rogers has turned the design of buildings inside out, showing all of what would ordinarily be its innards, outside.

That hasn't always won him unqualified approval. The Millenium Dome in London had its share of loud detractors, but today it joins Lloyd's of London, the Pompidou Center in Paris, Terminal 4 at Barajas Airport in Madrid, Nippon Television Headquarters in Tokyo and the design for a 71-story tower for the World Trade Center in New York as examples of the distinctive, groundbreaking work of this 73-year-old champion of the city.

The humanist approach that Rogers adopted toward architecture contains many lessons that we in Hawai'i would be wise to heed as the construction boom continues, changing the character of both our skyline and streets.

Cities are for living and must be friendly to the gathering of people, says Rogers. Implicit in that is a readiness to compromise, to forsake the unyielding rigidity of hard structures for the softer, more accommodating contours of meeting places where people can feel comfortable in what surrounds them.

There is much science in architecture, but Rogers invites us to express that science using all the stratagems of modernist art.

In Hawai'i, with its own distinctive island art of living, we must be mindful that what we do as architects and designers is less a triumph of individualism and more an expression of community. Here, where we are blessed with the wonderful trade winds, with blue skies and lush greenery, we are in a position to be a leader for the rest of the world in how we conceive of our living and work spaces.

The call to demonstrate architectural leadership is one that becomes doubly urgent when combined with the challenge to respond to global warming and the need to protect the Islands' fragile environment.

Situated where we are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we are uniquely placed to demonstrate, both to the Asia-Pacific region and to the Mainland as well as to the rest of the world, that we know how to bring the inside and the outside together.

We know how to integrate public and private spaces. We know how to blend future technologies with our past, and we know how to serve the changing needs of those who use the buildings we design.

In so doing, we will be providing a model for professional excellence that also complements local traditions and the unique qualities of Hawai'i in an organic, culturally sensitive way.

This is a call for more formal rigor, not less. The kind of professional rigor that makes us mindful of what we must do to reach for the sky while keeping our feet firmly on the ground and our eye on our neighbor's well-being.

If we can do that, we would have learned well the lessons offered by the career of this year's Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate, and we'd be helping make Hawai'i a better gathering place for all.

Matthew Goyke is president and principal architect of Green Sand Inc. and has been a practicing architect in Hawai'i for 18 years. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

Courtyard Views Designed into Kailua Condo Project by Brian Kossen

Ironwoods Condominium, Kailua's largest new residential development, features 3 large courtyards to preserve open-air, local style look of Kailua.

Featured in The Honolulu Advertiser, Local News
By Mike Leidemann, Honolulu Advertiser

KAILUA — The Ironwoods condominium project planned for Kailua, the largest new residential development on the Windward side in years, will feature four-story buildings built around three large courtyards visible from the street, according to developers.

The courtyards, each with an island theme, are meant in part to address community concerns about preserving an open-air, local-style look in the area adjacent to a rapidly changing downtown Kailua, said Bob Bruhl, vice president of O'ahu development for D.R. Horton Schuler.

"One of the main concerns we got in our discussions with community members was what the streetscape would look like," Bruhl said. "So we came up with something that wouldn't just be a wall facing the street."

Not everyone approves of the design, though.

"It still doesn't fit the character of Kailua. It looks more like Hawai'i Kai," said Donna Wong, head of the Kailua Neighborhood Board's planning, zoning and environmental committee. "Even if it's got courtyards, a wall is still a wall."

Wong said she still hopes the developer will modify the project to fit into an old-time neighborhood feel that some people feel is threatened by commercial modernization and development in the nearby business area.

Neighborhood Board chairwoman Kathy Bryant-Hunter said the design discussion is part of a larger debate in the community over rapid change.

"It's easier to say what you don't want than what you do want," she said. "Most people like the look of the new Kalapawai Cafe, but there are other buildings that look more like Southern California. Design-wise, I hear from more people who like the direction things are going, but they still want to be kept informed and have a chance to offer feedback on new projects."

D.R Horton Schuler plans to move forward with its Ironwood project later this year after the last of the tenants still living in older apartments on the Kailua Road site have left, Bruhl said.

Architect Matthew Goykey of Green Sand Inc. came up with the courtyard theme that gives all of the condominiums a view of the interior garden spaces, which will include Hawaiian plantings, coconut trees and open grass areas. People walking by on Kailua Road also will be able to see into the courtyards through low fences.

Once the last existing tenants move out, the company will begin capping 74 old cesspools on the property that have been ordered closed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The new condominiums will be connected to a new sewer system, which the city plans to begin work on later this month.

Construction of the condominiums is expected to begin in summer of 2008. The design will feature three floors of residential units built atop one floor of partially underground parking, keeping the project below the 40-foot building height limit in the area, Bruhl said.

Wong said some people still object to the four-story height of the new complex. "When you look from mauka to makai, they are going to stand out above all the other buildings in the area," she said.

In all, there will be 153 condominiums, with 18 three-bedroom and 27 one-bedroom units. The rest of the units will have two bedrooms. Prices are expected to be comparable with condominiums in the area currently selling between $400,000 and $800,000, Bruhl said.

"I wish they had been required to provide some affordable housing in the project," Wong said. "It's the perfect location for it."

Outgoing board member Faith Evans said others want more information before giving the project their full blessing.

"It seems aesthetically pleasing, but we want to make sure it's in line with the rest of what's happening in Kailua," Evans said. "We haven't approved it yet."

Neighborhood Board approval is not required for the project. D.R. Horton Schuler already has the needed zoning and most of the permits to proceed.


Construction to begin: Summer 2008

Design: Three floors of residential units, partially underground parking

Number of units: 153 one- to three-bedroom condominiums

Prices: Expected to be priced with comparable condominiums in the area selling between $400,000 and $800,000

The Ironwoods condominiums will replace a line of low-rise apartments along Kailua Road and will have three open courtyards. D.R. Horton Schuler and Green Sand Inc.

This Kailua Road apartment complex will be demolished and Ironwoods condos will go up on the site. The plan is for four-story buildings with garden-style courtyards. RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser