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Regional Architecture as an Expression of State Identity: Early State Government Buildings in the Honolulu Civic Center

Broverman, Anna

The decades after the war brought a great many changes to the state of Hawaii as clearly visible in the architecture of the Honolulu Civic Center. Of the different agencies represented, the Hawaii state buildings constructed after 1959 in the in the Civic Center are examples of significant changes in a more regional architecture customary in earlier Hawaiian governmental design. There was an effort to create an appropriate form of government architecture for the islands since the mid 1910s by adapting styles from other temperate areas, like southern California, to Hawaiiʼs unique climate. But with the inclusion of Hawaii into the Union in 1959, there was a concern among architects that these older and often Spanish Mission style government buildings lacked a true “Hawaiian” character muddling its image as a new state. In the construction of new state buildings post-statehood, there was a conscious effort to create a regional architecture appropriate for Hawaiiʼs climate and representative of its people. As a result, buildings blended indoor and outdoor environments, utilized sunshades, and were oriented to take advantage of trade winds while incorporating local materials and art. These buildings were deliberate in their designs and represent peopleʼs aspirations for Hawaii in the early years after statehood. As buildings in so many temperate zones, these buildings are becoming the victim of changes in perception and expectations. They are dismissed and under threat of insensitive alterations and in one case demolition. This thesis intends to set the stage for their regional significance, seeks to explain how their designs emerged, and why they are to be preserved as important testimony to the stateʼs history.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Prudon, Theodore
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 7, 2013
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