honolulu’s ibm building – february 2014 update

IBM building, feb 2014, designed by vladimir ossipoff

IBM building, feb 2014, designed by vladimir ossipoff

When I first wrote in 2012 about the iconic Honolulu IBM building that was designed by Vladimir Ossipoff in the 60’s, I didn’t realize that it was slated for demolition in 2008 by the owners at the time. Since then, the property was purchased by the Hughes Corporation as part of its plans to develop the Ward Centers area in the Kakaʻako neighborhood. The IBM building is now the sales office and model condo showplace for the first large condo buildings that are in the process of being built nearby.

IBM building, honolulu - close-up of the addition

close-up of the addition in the front, slated to be a restaurant

As it turned out, we arrived in Honolulu on our most recent trip to the islands on the week after the sales office was open. In spite of our scruffy tourist appearance and our obvious lack of means to throw down for a condo worth over a million dollars, the people inside were kind enough to give us a tour of the sales office. I wish I could have taken some pictures of the interior – it was like being in a Stanley Kubrick science fiction movie with a pristine de Sede DS 600 modular sofa, gleaming futuristic luxury and a 3D model of the plans for developing more of the Ward Centers.

IBM building honolulu - front view from Ala Moana

front view from Ala Moana – note the add-on on the roof

The most obvious external changes to the building are the white scooped addition in the front (that I understand will be put to use as a restaurant), and the extra addition on the roof (which I imagine is part of the condo models they have up there). They have also nicely redone the landscaping in the front, and as an added bonus they repaved the parking lot with patterns that echo the look of the famous “punch card” sunshades:

IBM building, honolulu - new paving in parking lot echoing the sun shade pattern

new paving in parking lot echoing the sun shade pattern

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the new look of the IBM building (and the development plans for Kakaʻako in general), but I can easily say they did a tremendous job and treated the building with care. Considering that the alternative as recently as 2008 would have been to tear the building down and put up another high-rise, I am grateful that the Hughes Corporation has shown such respect for the building and for Hawaiʻi’s preeminent modernist architect Vladimir Ossipoff. They have truly honored the modern look and feel of the IBM building.

view of the IBM building from Auahi Street

view of the IBM building from Auahi Street – in 1962 the IBM building was the tallest one in the neighborhood

 

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