Whitmore Community Food Hub Complex Plan: Building Community Around Food

University of Arkansas Community Design Center + University of Arkansas Resiliency Center


Eliminated with the rise of corporate agriculture in the early 20th century, community-based food hubs aggregate, process, and distribute product from local growers to wholesale consumers. Not a typical farmer's market, food hubs create community resilience through incubation of value-added food supply chains and a skilled workforce where neither existed. This Food Hub will serve O‛ahu communities while advancing a "missing middle" agricultural infrastructure template for local food production among Hawai‛i's other islands. 

More than 93% of Hawai‛i's food is imported. Alarming, since Hawai‛i is the remotest inhabited land mass on Earth; astonishing, since Hawaiian food production once fed a nation and then some. Hawaiian grocers have a five-day supply of food sourced from global supply chains, meaning they are fifteen meals away from anarchy. 

Besides providing logistics for an underserved agricultural community, the Whitmore complex provides additional economic development related to provision of agricultural workforce micro-housing, food business incubation, and cultural tourism. The challenge is to provide inspiring public places for neighborhood residents and tourists despite that 80% of the complex is devoted to logistics. 

The Food Hub's tilt wall concrete construction system provides flexibility, affordability, and minimal joinery for high performance protection of food products. While tilt wall concrete construction provides a clean environment minimizing the chance of mass contamination, its construction lacks an architectural pedigree with aesthetic or urban value. Multiple civic building frontages combine with canopies, courtyards, bridges, and other landscapes to create a shade economy, establishing a porous and inviting public place throughout the complex.

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