Hawaiian Architecture

For a good overview and introduction, see the Wikipedia article on Hawaiian architecture.

I have identified at least three distinct architectural styles that seem to be unique to Hawaii:

Dickey Roof

The Hawaiian style roof was introduced by architect Charles W. Dickey in 1926 with his personal residence in Waikiki. In 1926 Dickey was commissioned to design the Halekulani bungalows and in 1931 he was commisioned to design the main building for the Halekulani. The style caught on and has become emblematic of Hawaiian architecture.


The original Dickey roof: Charles W. Dickey's residence in Waikiki. Courtesy of ZuluMagoo.


This is the public restroom at Queen's Surf Beach.


This is a Dickey roof house in Aina Haina on Kalanianaole Highway.


Side view of the Dickey roof house.

Single Wall House

Home heating is not necessary in Hawaii, so insulated frame house construction was not used in many instances. Instead, many houses were built with 3/4 inch thick tongue-in-groove vertical boards to hold up the roof. Single wall construction is no longer allowed by the building code in Hawaii because of the need to insulate some walls to reduce air conditioning cost, as well as the fact that a frame house is stronger in the face of high winds.


Single wall construction is typified by vertical tongue-in-groove boards that take the roof load.


This is an example of a single decorative horizontal band style.


This is an example of a double decorative horizontal band style.


A single wall zero band house in Aina Haina.


Another view of the single wall zero band house.


A single band single wall house on East Hind Drive.


Two double band single wall houses next to each other on Hind Iuka.


A fine example of the double band style of single wall house.


This house on Kalanianaole Highway is said to be for the Kalani High School caretaker. It has a triple decorative band. It appears to need
some taking care of.

Palm Tree Style

This style originated with the Hawaii State Capitol building and is named from the upwardly expanding columns that resemble palm trees. Here is what the Hawaii State Government Website says about the architypical Capitol:

The Capitol was constructed at the direction of Governor John A. Burns and designed by the firms of Belt, Lemmon & Lo of Honolulu, John Carl Warnecke & Associates and Architects Hawai`i. It was built at a cost of $24.6 million. Construction was started on November 15, 1965 and completed on March 15, 1969.

The State Capitolís unusual architectural style contains a great deal of symbolism reflecting the uniqueness of the island state. It was designed with extensive amounts of open space, both inside and out, to convey a sense of open government.

The number eight is found throughout the building, signifying the eight major Hawaiian islands. There are eight columns in the front and back of the building, groups of eight mini-columns on the balcony that surrounds the fourth floor and eight panels on the doors leading to the Governorís and Lieutenant Governorís chambers.

Like the Hawaiian Islands, the Capitol is surrounded by water, and the outer columns that rise from the reflecting pools represent HawaiĎiís palm trees.

The House and Senate chambers have curved, sloping walls, a shape inspired by the volcanoes that gave birth to the islands.

Since completion of the building in 1969, the palm tree style has been widely immitated on Oahu, so it has become a distinctly Hawaiian style.


The Capitol of the State of Hawaii.


A palm tree style bank building on Ward Avenue.


Here's a view of the front side of that bank taken on a different day.


Here's milder form of palm tree style on Kapilolani Blvd.


The inerior supports of the Honolulu Convention Center, visible through the glass, are also exemplary of the palm tree style.


This is the facade of a highrise apartment on the mauka side of King Street.


This is a palm tree style portico at King Center on the makai side of King Street.


The public restroom at Wailae Park near the Kahala Hilton Hotel is a classic implementation of the palm tree style.


This is a very graceful example the palm tree style architecture of the Queen Kapiolani Hotel on Kapahulu near Kalakaua in Waikiki.


Next door to the Convention Center is this apartment building with a palm tree style portico.

Miscellaneous Hawaiian Architecture

I often find interesting examples of Hawaiian architecture that are not of an identifiably Hawaiian style, but warrant inclusion here due to architectural merit.


This circular block wall public restroom at Wailupe Beach Park has a cantilevered circular flat concrete roof.


This is the unusual Occidental building King and Berretania near McKinley High School.

Richard dot J dot Wagner at gmail dot com


index.html, this hand crafted HTML file was created February 17, 2012.
Last updated February 24, 2013, by Rick Wagner.
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