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9 Most Endangered Historic Sites in Hawaii

This annual list, compiled by the Historic Hawaii Foundation, in cooperation with the State Historic Preservation Division, selects some of Hawaii’s most endangered historic places.


(page 3 of 6)

Engineering Quad

(UH Manoa Campus, Oahu)

Photo: Rae Huo

• What is it?

These four buildings next to the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Campus Center constitute some of the oldest buildings on campus—their small size a reminder of how much the school has grown since its early days. One of them, the Engineering Materials Testing Laboratory, built in 1915, is predated only by Hawaii Hall. The buildings housed the Engineering School until 1959. Today, they provide a home for K-a Leo, UH’s student newspaper, the Board of Publications, Student Support Services, Duplicating Services, and the now-empty Beau Press.


• What threatens it?

A proposed $38 million expansion of the Campus Center that would include a fitness center and gym for students, as well as a heritage corridor commemorating the university’s 100-year-history. The footprint of the new complex, at least as it’s currently planned (inset), lies directly over the historic quad, meaning the four buildings would need to be demolished to make way.

Astrid Liverman, architectural branch chief at the state Historic Preservation Division, says, “It’s ironic that in order to build a Heritage Corridor, they’re going to remove the heritage.”

• What can be done?

Because UH Manoa is a state agency, it’s required by law to get the concurrence of the SHPD before starting any project that impacts historic property. Liverman has thus far opposed the idea of demolishing the Engineering Quad buildings, and says she’s holding out either for a revised plan that incorporates the four buildings into the new complex, or at least a compromise that saves some of the buildings.

Kathy Cutshaw, the UH Manoa vice chancellor for administration, finance and operations, is overseeing the project, but didn’t return our calls.


Photo: Rae Huo

IBM Building

(Honolulu, Oahu)

 What is it?

Vladimir Ossipoff designed this Ala Moana Boulevard office building for the IBM Corp. in the early 1960s. It boasted a straight-forward layout, and niceties such as a distinctive grille that’s made it one of Honolulu’s most iconic buildings. “It’s an interesting and worthwhile remnant of Hawaii’s 1960s period,” says Syndey Snyder, Ossipoff’s long-time architectural partner. “It’s from that era when people put grilles on everything. This grille survived because it was unique and more elegant than most.”

• What threatens it?

The building is actually in good shape, and in use. But General Growth Properties wants to tear it down as part of its master plan for the 60-acre Ward Centre complex. Jan Yokota, GGP vice president of development, says it’s too early to say when exactly demolition might happen. “We’re planning a mix of mid- and high-rise buildings throughout the 60 acres [over the next 30 years]. But we haven’t designed any of the buildings yet, and have not settled on a phasing plan yet.”

• What can be done?

The Hawaii Community Development Authority is currently reviewing GGP’s master plan, but the IBM Building isn’t currently on the HCDA’s “must save” list, according to communications director Craig Nakamoto. “If the landowner wants to designate or get a building nominated as a historic building, the HCDA will do everything it can to support that. But any initiative to do that would have to come from General Growth Properties.”

In any case, it will likely be at least a few years before the wrecking ball swings, leaving open the possibility that GGP could be persuaded to incorporate the IBM Building into its master plan.


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Honolulu Magazine February 2020
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