Honolulu just got a little less colorful.

I was riding down Kapiolani Boulevard the other day when I suddenly noticed that a peacock had lost its plumage. Not an actual bird, of course, but the Hawaiian Life Insurance Building, at the corner of Kapiolani and Piikoi.

For years, the Vladimir-Ossipoff-designed building sported vertical aluminum fins painted all the vivid colors of the rainbow, and then some. Now, though, the building’s fins have been painted all white. I spent half a minute mourning the loss.

Here’s how the building used to look:


Turns out the color subtraction was part of a larger renovation for new anchor tenant Hawaii National Bank, which opened its new branch in the building this past September.

In addition to rearranging the interior to accommodate the bank and its vault, and renaming the building to “the Hawaii National Bank Building,” property owner K.J.L. Associates slapped on the new, monochromatic coat of paint in December.

Evan Mau, in K.J.L.’s management office, says, “We thought it made sense to change the color, in order to differentiate it and start a new history for the building. People would continue to think of it as the Hawaiian Life Building if the color remained the same.”

Mau says the white fins are also an attempt to return the building to the way it appeared when it was completed in 1951. “The original building was a neutral color, I think it was light green?” he says. “It only became a rainbow color later in its life.”

OK, a new chapter in the building’s life, a return to the original design intent—I guess that’s understandable. I still miss the rainbow.