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First Hawaiian Bank

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1977, Bank Building Corporation, design architect Karl R. Klager. 1580 Kapiolani Blvd.
  • (Photograph by Kaoru Lovett)
  • (Photograph by Kaoru Lovett)
  • (Photograph by Kaoru Lovett)
  • (Photograph by Kaoru Lovett)

The three-story, coral-veneered bank is a distinctive contribution to the ongoing conversation on appropriate regional design for Hawaii. At its opening, the Honolulu Star Bulletin found that the building “avoided the ‘big city' look with a Hawaiian appearance.” Modern in design, yet Hawaiian in texture and feeling, the building establishes an intense energy between its various elements. The soaring, coral buttresses interact with the horizontal yet upward-rising copper frieze and cornice to establish a strong play of projection and recession with the fenestration and concrete second-story balcony planters. This dynamic composition is enhanced by the bold natural colors of the building's materials. The bank is set back from the street, allowing the softening presence of ground vegetation from which steps lead up to the off-center entrance. The interior was reconfigured in 2002 when marble floors and walls were added, but the coral columns and copper-paneled mezzanine were retained, bringing inside a memory of the outside.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "First Hawaiian Bank", [Honolulu, Hawaii], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Hawaii

Buildings of Hawaii, Don J. Hibbard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011, 143-143.

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