Edit ModuleShow Tags

Rare Editions

Who can name the most significant buildings in Hawaii? Architect Frank Haines, for one, editor of a book that does just that. This month, we interviewed Haines about the book, the direction architecture in Hawaii has taken lately and more.


(page 2 of 3)

The new edition of Architecture in Hawaii shows the evolution of buildings that attempt to feel at home in the Islands, such as the Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH.

Photo: Courtesy of Mutual Publishing

The new edition includes such projects as the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii, the Hawaii Convention Center, Hanalei Elementary’s library and cafeteria, Kalihi Valley Homes, the Spark Matsunaga VA Medical and Regional Office Center Kapolei Hale, the Nanea Clubhouse and more. All of them show the results of a change in Hawaii architecture that began with the early ’90s discussion about “a Hawaiian sense of place.”

“There’s been a healthy attempt to make the buildings look more like they had an appropriateness for Hawaii,” says Haines. “Before, you just designed for a need, which then dictated a look. Now we’re more aware of the fact that these buildings are around for a long time. You don’t want something like the First Hawaiian Bank building which could be in Atlanta or wherever.”

The Boy Scouts Headquarters in Nuuanu.

The new edition also includes buildings that have inspired contentious discussions about design in Hawaii, such as the Convention Center.

The Christ United Methodist Church, Honolulu.

Photos: Courtesy of Mutual Publising

(The First Hawaiian tower, like the Hawaii Convention Center, is one of those lightning rods for architectural controversy. To Haines, the FHB tower’s best contribution to downtown is the way it sits on its block, surrounded by open, public space. “When I take people on the walking tours, I tell them that no downtown our size is more pedestrian friendly because you have open spaces quite a ways mauka. There’s almost an acre of open space in Tamarind Square and the [FHB tower] extends that mix of open spaces and buildings,” says Haines.)

On the other hand, the sensitivity about Hawaii appropriateness didn’t debut in the 1990s. Haines recalls battling the federal government in the late 1970s over the design of the Prince Kuhio Federal Building. “The General Services Administration only wanted a typical, tall office tower,” he says. But he and the building’s designing architect, Joseph Farrell, showed them something low-rise, with an open-air interior courtyard and a garden terrace, something that would be a better neighbor in Honolulu’s civic center. “We had to convince them that this would be much more appropriate for Hawaii.” Haines and Farrell succeeded and, while the Federal Building may not strike one as the friendliest building along Ala Moana Boulevard, it’s warmer than a by-the-book international-style tower would’ve been.

Haines has seen firsthand the evolution of architecture in Hawaii since World War II, when the Princeton graduate came through the Islands while serving as a gunnery officer aboard a destroyer escort, the USS Acree. “We did antisubmarine patrols escorting convoys zig-zagging across the Pacific,” he says, “So we didn’t have a lot of excitement.” When the Acree was in Pearl Harbor, Haines would stay with a cousin who had a house in Makiki Heights, where he got a sense of what it would be like to live in Hawaii. After the war, he got his master’s in architecture from MIT, and moved to the Islands for good in 1948.

“Through family connectionswas offered a job by Cy Lemmon. I’ll never forget, I came here on a Friday in November 1948. The first thing I did on Saturday morning was to go check where I was going to work. I went to the address, 25 Saratoga Road, expecting an office building of some kind. But there was this little Hawaiian-style single-family home and a little sign, Cyril W. Lemmon, Architect. He had taken the garage and converted it into an office. I thought, What the hell have I gotten into?”



Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to Honolulu

Honolulu Magazine May 2018
Edit ModuleShow Tags



Colin Nishida, Beloved Chef and Restaurateur, Leaves a Culinary Legacy

Colin Nishida

An entire community remembers the owner of Side Street Inn.


Closing of Popular Lanikai Pillbox Hike Delayed Until Further Notice

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

The state asks for public input as it works to repair the old concrete observation stations on the trail, commonly known as “pillboxes.”


First Look: Panda Dimsum in Kalihi

Panda Dim Sum

Frogs, hedgehogs and bees, oh my! This spot dishes up cute, Instagrammable dumplings.


Kaimukī Gets da Shop, a New Kind of Bookstore and Event Space

Da Shop

It takes guts to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the days of instant online gratification, but in da Shop, local publisher Bess Press has found a way to allow fickle/loyal readers to have their cake and eat it, too.


20 Great O‘ahu Hikes

Explore 20 great adventures that offer beautiful vistas, waterfalls and more.



Edit ModuleShow Tags