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Honolulu Board of Water Supply Building

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1958, Wood, Weed and Kubota. 630 S. Beretania St.
  • (Photograph by Augie Salbosa)

Featuring one of the earliest and most artful uses of sunscreens in Hawaii, this building smoothly blends a multiethnic architectural vocabulary with a modern grammar. Designed in 1949 by Hart Wood, but not built until several years later, it stands as one of Honolulu's finest modernist buildings. The Chinese fret-work of the sunscreens melds effortlessly with the Japanese portico and the Hawaiian motto, “Uwē ka lani, ola ka honua” (“The rain falls, the earth lives”), a celebration of Hawaii's multicultural society. The theme of water is introduced by the front fountain and continued in the green slate used to embellish the walls adjoining the entrance. Sidewalks and steps are also tinted a blue-green. The interior lobby brings the exterior inside via the use of green slate on one wall and features a large mural by Juliette May Fraser depicting water use in Hawaii throughout its history. The extensive application of koa paneling derives from a more recent remodeling.

The sweeping elevated walkway, supported by a pair of single pylons, adds a playful dimension and provides a connection to the Public Service Building of 1939. This latter has at its rear entrance a splendid mural executed in green slate by Margarite Blasingame, depicting the discovery of water by the gods Kane and Kanaloa.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Honolulu Board of Water Supply Building", [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, 119-122.

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