Standing 39 stories tall when completed, Kobayashi and MacNaughton groups continue to aim high with their next new hit on the block.

For architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia, the driving force behind his design of Vida was clear from the moment he saw the future development’s spectacular setting.

“To take full advantage of the ocean and Diamond Head views: They are the icons of Hawai‘i. Any iconic value in the building pales by comparison to the natural beauty of the setting,” Fort-Brescia says.

Located at 888 Ala Moana Blvd., the former Cutter Mazda site, the development consists of a 39-story tower of 261 residential units and four guest units.

"The layout emphasizes spaces bathed with natural light that flow to generous terraces,” says Vida architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia. "Our first objective was to ensure every unit faced that amazing view.”

"The layout emphasizes spaces bathed with natural light that flow to generous terraces,” says Vida architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia. "Our first objective was to ensure every unit faced that amazing view.”

“The design divides the building into two wings. Two towers splay at different angles off a central glass spine. Th is sets a diagonal axis of the composition toward Diamond Head and Waikiki’s famous beaches.”

Fort-Brescia’s design gives each homeowner an ocean view and direct elevator entry into their exclusive foyer. VIDA’s developers, the Kobayashi and MacNaughton Groups, were thrilled by that progressive concept during the project’s competitive design process.

“On the functional front, we wanted to elevate the sense of privacy by arriving to units by private elevator,” explains Fort-Brescia, who instead cleverly moved the shared hallway space to the mauka, back portion of the building.

“His design transforms the shared, common space into an open-air space at the back of the building,” says Alana Kobayashi Pakkala of Kobayashi Group. “This allows owners to open their back windows and allow natural cross-ventilation into their homes, and it will save the residents tremendously in future energy costs because they won’t have to pay for that space to be air-conditioned. We thought it was brilliant, and could not wait to build it.

“We also wanted to take advantage of the breezes to achieve cross-ventilation. We created through units that achieved this,” Fort-Brescia explains.

Every unit is designed to have its own private lanai, which creates additional natural cooling for the building.

“We then protected the expansive glass surfaces with shade, further lowering energy consumption. The continuous balconies provided this shade while simultaneously creating outdoor living spaces. They are part of the tradition in Hawaiian living. Essentially, we were looking for passive sustainable design.”

Designed into the building’s amenities are fitness and yoga rooms, a kids’ gym, private dining, wine and game rooms, a conference room, as well as a private theater, convenient bike, surfboard and paddle board storage, music and craft room and a tool workshop.

“We wanted to provide everything for people who think they aren’t apartment people,” Pakkala adds.

The building’s exterior features an outdoor theater, barbecue cabanas, a putting green, dogs’ bark park, community gardens and a men-and-women’s outdoor spa. VIDA’s two pools allow for residents to chose between a quiet, adult lap pool, and a recreational one.

VIDA's garden boasts a community garden, pool decks, cabanas, a children’s play area and an exercise lawn.

VIDA’s garden boasts a community garden, pool decks, cabanas, a children’s play area and an exercise lawn.

Fort-Brescia describes the outdoor amenity deck as the building’s central park.

“The building rises from a podium that creates a vast roof garden. The podium ground floor is lined with retail shops that activate the sidewalks and build a neighborhood.

“The VIDA architecture is just incredible—with a lean toward the contemporary, so the artwork will reflect the style and feel of the building and grounds,” says Hawai‘i artist Kelly Sueda, whom VIDA’s developers tapped to curate the building’s art collection.

The majority of artists Sueda is drawing from are local, with a smaller percentage of mainland artisans.

“I like to mix different mediums and genres of art—from landscape paintings to bronze sculptures, from photographs to abstract paintings,” Sueda notes. “We want the art to feel seamless and purposeful throughout the building.

“Artwork is often an afterthought in a lot of projects; however, the developers at VIDA had artwork on much of the beginning phases of the interior and exterior planning.

I always find it interesting walking into an empty space, hearing the echo of the surfaces, the coldness of the walls, [and] then seeing it with furniture; the warmth and comfort of the space begins to transform. ~ en seeing it with artwork—this is the moment when so much of the personality of space shines through.”

For Fort-Brescia, the most exciting element of VIDA’s design is the dynamic play of light and shadow that the balconies generate.

“It capitalizes on the beautiful bright Hawaiian sun,” he says. “To each side of the center axis, the towers’ balconies fold to create a three-dimensional play of vertical strands. The irregular planes are created by balcony glass bands as they change from floor to floor. Their surface catches the contrasting light and shadow, which results in a sculpted surface. The inspiration was the imagery of palm fronds gently moving in the wind.”

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All photos courtesy Vida at 888 Ala Moana