A villa in the sky, The Courtyards at Punahou applies a Postmodern vocabulary to the high-rise form. Developed during the Japanese “bubble” economy of the late 1980s–early 1990s by Haseko, a Hawaii subsidiary of the Tokyo-based construction and development firm Hasegawa Komuten, the building is one of Honolulu's bolder super-luxury condominiums. The twelve-story building holds a mere thirty-five units. The two top-floor penthouses each contain six thousand square feet of enclosed space, and each has its own exterior, rooftop recreation area with swimming pool. The travertine-clad Renaissance Revival porte-cochere and entrance stairs provide an elegance reinforced by the Grand Hall. This large space opens onto lanai on one side.
Brad Nelsen of Nelsen Partners in Austin, Texas, has designed apartments, hotels, office buildings, and mixed-use projects in the United States and Australia. While traveling to Australia, he met members of Haseko's staff during a Honolulu layover, which resulted in The Courtyards at Punahou commission. Haseko project manager Thad Bond guided the project to assure that the design responded to the traditions of Hawaii. Other Hawaii projects by Nelsen include the Maui High Performance Computing Center (1993) at 550 Lipoa Parkway in Kihei.