queen emma building

"queen emma building march 2012"

queen emma building, honolulu - march 2012

I am sad to report that one of the most distinctive and original modern buildings in Honolulu Hawai’i has finally been altered for the worst.

The Queen Emma Building in downtown Honolulu was designed in the 1960’s by Jo Paul Rognstad and had two great architectural details that made it stand out. The first was an inventive decorative sun shade made of metal that covered the windows, the second is the brick “pimples”.

In Hawai’i using sun shades on the exterior of buildings is an efficient method to cool the building while allowing wind and rain to pass through. (Another classic modernist approach to the sun shade is Vladimir Ossipoff’s IBM building, also in Honolulu.)

The sun shades have now been removed – here are some pics from 2008 showing the sun shades:

"queen emma building - january 2008"

queen emma building - january 2008

"queen emma building sun shade"

queen emma building sun shade - january 2008

"queen emma building sun shade detail"

sun shade detail - january 2008

"straight-on detail view of the queen emma building sun shade"

straight-on detail view of the sun shade - january 2008

The second cool detail of the Queen Emma Building is the geometric pattern of extruding bricks on the exterior walls. These were nicknamed “pimples” by the locals.

The building itself was sometimes referred to as the “Pimple Building” and came in second in a poll for the ugliest building in Honolulu conducted by the columnist Charles Memminger in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2005.

I could name a hundred uglier buildings in Honolulu, but then that’s me!

"queen emma building - exterior brick pimples"

exterior brick "pimples" - march 2012

"queen emma building corner brick pimples"

corner brick "pimples" - march 2012

"queen emma building brick pimples detail"

brick "pimples" detail - january 2008

"queen emma building closeup showing busted pimple bricks"

closeup showing busted "pimple" bricks - january 2008

The building had been in limbo for a number of years, having been bought and sold and construction/destruction started and stopped a couple of times since 2006. During our last visit in September 2011 the sun shades were still on the building. But it seems like with the improved economy construction has started up again, and now the transition to the building’s next incarnation as condominiums is under way.


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