The Importance of Sustainable Design is the Focus of Architecture Month 2019

Walking tours, films, sketches and photography celebrate O‘ahu’s vibrant architecture scene.
Center for Microbial Oceanography
Photo: David Croxford


In April, the spotlight is on memorable buildings that make up our city skylines as part of Architecture Month. This year, the American Institute of Architects Honolulu is calling attention to the importance of sustainable design. An iconic example by local firm G70 is the 30,000-square-foot Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education at UH Mānoa, credited as the state’s only LEED Platinum research laboratory. C-MORE Hale, as it is called, features 60 photovoltaic panels, a 2,400-square-foot green roof with plants including the native ‘ākulikuli, solar tubes that channel sunlight—78 percent of the areas in C-MORE are naturally lit—and low-flow toilets and automatic faucets that help cut potable water use in almost half. 

  Downtown Landmarks

Downtown Landmarks: Grounds of ‘Iolani Palace, Honolulu. Pen and watercolor. Sketcher: Harald
Image: courtesy of o‘ahu urban sketchers


If you see a swarm of people staring at buildings and sketching their surroundings this month, you haven’t stumbled into an art class. You’ve likely walked into part of this year’s Architecture Month in Honolulu.


The annual April event gives people an opportunity to find out more about what architects do at work each day and tour some cool buildings. The American Institute of Architects Honolulu also invites the community to get excited about architecture by sharing current designs, projects and people who focus on the built environment all the time.


This year’s events include films, tours and a firm crawl, where folks who sign up get to drink, snack and learn as they check out various leading architecture and design firms in a pau hanastyle presentation.


Activities kick off at the Honolulu Biennial’s Hub space (the former Famous Footwear store makai of Kaka‘ako Kitchen), 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 2 with a fast-paced night of design presentations.


This is also the fourth year that AIA Honolulu will team up with Urban Sketchers O‘ahu, a local chapter of an international organization that gathers artists of all levels of experience. With notebooks, pens, pencils and other art supplies in hand, sketchers capture what they see: landscape, buildings and people to tell the story of the place through their art. Last year, the group fanned out along Fort Street Mall, near the Center for Architecture, headquarters for AIA Honolulu. This year, the group will go to the historic campus of Punahou School on April 20, the same day the public is invited to a new walking tour of the grounds.


More information and drawings, including the one above, can be found online at


SEE ALSO: Celebrate Architecture Month in April with These Free Honolulu Events



Most events are free but require signing up in advance:


Firm Crawl

April 5, 5 to 8 p.m. An after-work circuit of open houses of various architecture and interior design firms showcasing their latest work.


Park Cleanup

April 6, 8 a.m. to noon, Lo‘i Kalo park in Kalihi, partnership with Honolulu American Society of Landscape Artists.


Film Night

April 18, 5:30 p.m., Center for Architecture, 828 Fort Street Mall. Check AIA’s website for movie details.


Architectural Photography Workshop

April 27, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Center for Architecture, for a fee.


Walking Tour

April 20, 8 a.m. to noon, Punahou School. For the first time, festivities include an architectural walking tour of Punahou, with docents stationed at key points providing guided tours.


Bank of Hawai‘i Family Sunday

April 21, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Honolulu Museum of Art. This year’s theme is Wild World.


Film Night II

April 26, 6 to 8 p.m. Center for Architecture. Jens Jensen The Living Green is a documentary about an immigrant street sweeper who went on to become a pioneer landscape architect, an influential urban designer and conservationist in the U.S. Presented in partnership with Honolulu American Society of Landscape Artists.


To sign up for the activities, go to


Read more stories by Robbie Dingeman