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The State of Hawaii’s Department of Education (DOE) is facing a crisis: deteriorating facilities and limited budgets contribute to poor academic performance and retention rates. The DOE hired MKThink to transform this crisis into an opportunity through three-dimensional analysis of users, architecture, and the environment.


First, the MKThink team recommended a pilot at the district’s most challenging site, a 3,500 student, 27 acre, 340,780 sf high school in urban Honolulu. After using the database to establish the baseline conditions, the team studied how to break down the scale of the large high school into smaller academies to foster a sense of belonging and accountability.

The team employed an analytic engine to develop a standard spatial “kit of parts” for the academies and outlined cultural steps to facilitate the evolution. Using a scenario builder, they modeled how to repurpose existing buildings (with minor modifications) to create human-scaled places that support the academy-based pedagogy.


For this first high school alone, the MKThink solution avoided a $100 million replacement project and long construction delays. Using the best practices developed by MKThink, the DOE can greatly reduce the cost of large-scale educational reform as it implements a statewide roll out.