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Designing the Islands

Architecture and its kindred disciplines bring us design at its most prominent and enduring. Here are just some of the people in the islands who are designing today’s buildings, homes, interiors and landscapes.

DESIGN
MATTERS
MEET
THE DESIGNERS
DESIGNING
THE ISLANDS
TAKE HOME
DESIGN

 

photo: Olivier Koning
LIVING INSTITUTIONS
John Hara, of John Hara Associates Inc.

John Hara often designs buildings that belong to the public as much as they belong to his clients. These include the Luce Pavilion at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center and five structures for Punahou School, including the state-of-the-art Case Middle School (pictured here). To each he has brought his distinctive design touch--a look at once serene, yet modern. "The responsibilities for projects such as these are quite different from other types of structures," says Hara. "You're really designing for the community." Hara is keenly aware of how signature public buildings can define an institution. "One of the challenges with the Case Middle School was that, because of its location [fronting Wilder Avenue], it would create a fa?ade for the entire school." Next up for Hara? The $150 million UH West O'ahu Campus in Kapolei, scheduled to break ground next year.


MINDING THE STORE
Ann Kutaka, of IN+Form Design

You've probably experienced Ann Kutaka's work without realizing it. She's designed such Ala Moana Center stores as Emporio Armani, Celine, Fendi and the remodeled Louis Vuitton (pictured here), as well as the Dior store in Waikiki's DFS Galleria and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center's new Salvatore Ferragamo. Retail stores, especially high end ones, are among the most thoroughly designed environments people can experience, where a purely aesthetic experience is paramount. "I love to draw and always wanted to design buildings that people would enjoy," says Kutaka. "Retailers are a fun group of people, they have a lot of ideas, openness and they're constantly changing."

photo: Olivier Koning


photo: Olivier Koning/WATG

THE GLOBAL SUCCESS STORY
Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo

Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo has made an international name for itself designing some of the world's most fabulous resorts, thanks in part to its location-sensitive design philosophy, cultivated in the tourism laboratory of postwar Hawai'i. It's the firm's ability to reimagine the design cues of Hawaiiana, though, that has made it a multigenerational success. With the Hawai'i Convention Center, WAT&G threw out the clichéd elements that typically signify a local "sense of place." WAT&G's senior vice president and director Howard Wolff says, "You could argue, even though it's controversial, that the Hawai'i Convention Center is a modern interpretation of what Hawaiian architecture could be. It's not literally reaching back to, say, a territorial style, or using a pitched roof, but it incorporates these metaphors--ship sails and waves."


THE TRENDSETTER Francis Oda, chairman of Group 70

photo: courtesy of Francis Oda

Local design aficionados may be surprised to see a building such as the Nanea Golf Clubhouse, pictured here, from Francis Oda Through the '90s, Oda and Group 70 championed "kama'aina architecture," as seen in Kapolei and the Ward Entertainment Complex. And in fact, Oda was asked to design Nanea on the strength of that style. But Oda realized his signature style wouldn't be appropriate on the slopes of Hualalai. "I asked them if they'd be open to something different. É I thought the clubhouse should be part of the landscape." Copper cones cover the public functions of the clubhouse, echoing the pu'u (cinder cones) in shape and color. Inside, 'šhi'a logs are lashed together in the tradition of ancient Hawaiian hale pili, grass shacks. Most of the clubhouses back-of-house functions were hidden underground. Says Oda, "There are places in Hawai'i where you don't want a building at all, not even the most beautiful building."


THE HOME-MAKER Geoffrey Lewis

photo courtesy of: Geoffrey Lewis

Like many solo practitioners, architect Geoffrey Lewis takes on a lot of residential work. "Originally, I didn't think I'd get into it as much as I have," he says. "Now I'm really enjoying it, especially the interaction with the clients and the friendships that are established. I'm taking their dream and bringing it to fruition, but trying to go above and beyond their expectations." He's dubbed one of his favorite recent projects, pictured here, his "Modernist Revival." The '60s home definitely had modernist qualities, but suffered from being broken up into too many small compartments. "We opened it up a lot, updated the details." For Lewis, Hawai'i architecture is not about a style but an approach. "To me, architecture is 100-percent experiential. When I design, I walk through the space in my mind and think, how does this feel, how does it affect me?"


EARTH MOVERS PBR Hawai'i

photo: courtesy of PBR Hawai'i

Over the past 36 years, the architects of PBR Hawai'i have given shape to Hawai'i's landscapes--many instantly familiar to residents. They gave Ala Moana Center its koi ponds and taro plants, restored the grounds of 'Iolani Palace and helped plan the H-3 interstate. For the renovation of the Outrigger Wailea Resort on Maui (pictured here), PBR Hawai'i architect Russell Chung added style to the resort grounds by subtracting. He cut away or moved much of the existing ground cover, leaving well-pruned banyan trees to stand as organic sculptures. Low, natural, lava-rock walls add to the local feel of the grounds. "It illustrated to me that simple design can make just as strong a statement about our identity as, say, heavy tropical plants," Chung says.


THE GREEN TEAM Ferraro Choi

photo courtesy: Ferraro Choi

Local architecture firm Ferraro Choi has built its practice around environmentally friendly, sustainable design. This visitor center for the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai'i Authority in Kailua-Kona pushes the envelope for green design--it's one of only eight projects around the world to achieve a platinum rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system. The entire building is a thermal chimney, pulling hot air out and replacing it with deep-sea-water-cooled air. Thanks to photovoltaic panels and an impressive list of ultra-efficient features, the facility exports twice the energy it consumes. Troy Miyasato, AIA, MBA, a principal of Ferraro Choi, says that design concepts used here can also be applied to almost any project, residential or otherwise. "We hope that sustainable architecture becomes known simply as 'architecture,'" he says, "just the normal mode of design."


INNER BEAUTY Shari Saiki

photo: courtesy of Shari Saiki

If you've shopped for a new Castle & Cooke home since the late '90s, you've probably walked through one of Shari Saiki's interiors--she's designed the model homes for a number of its developments. To create a convincing simulacrum, she has to do a bit of play-acting. "We create a fictitious model family complete with careers, interests and a lifestyle," she says. Model homes aren't her bread and butter--Saiki also designs private residential interiors and commercial spaces. She describes her style as "Contemporary Pacifica"--saying it comprises elements from regions around the Pacific such as Hawai'i, Asia and even West Coast metropolitan areas. "I think that we need a fresh new Island look that is grown out of our own inspiration, and not the islands of the Caribbean, Indonesia, etc."


HIROTO SUZUKI

Hiroto Suzuki, originally from Kyoto, Japan and now a principal architect with Peter Vincent & Associates, has gained a reputation for designing clean, modern public spaces, particularly restaurants--everything from Alan Wong's Restaurant to Pearl City Zippy's. He says he likes the challenge of designing in Hawai'i. "I can design a restaurant in Tokyo or New York and not have to worry about the geographical element, because when you walk out the door, you feel like you're still in a huge city. But here it is different. You design a very contemporary space, and you look outside and see palm trees and the ocean. But I'm learning how to make it match--a modern space, but with a tropical feel." His latest creation, Rokkaku (pictured), opened last month at Ala Moana.

photo: Olivier Koning

 

DESIGN
MATTERS
MEET
THE DESIGNERS
DESIGNING
THE ISLANDS
TAKE HOME
DESIGN
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,April

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