Architecture Month!

Using the AIA Center for Architecture as our base, 30 sketchers (our biggest turnout so far) fanned out to explore the neighboring streets of downtown Honolulu. The view of picturesque Aloha Tower proved too much to resist for many of us, but the intricate details of building facades, gates, and doors, as well as the many shrubs, trees, and planters in the area all received due attention too. And who knew there was a cannon nearby!

To add an educational element to the sensory experience, Mayumi treated us to an overview of the architecture and history of some of the prominent buildings on and around Fort Street Mall. Hands up: who knew about the Russian fort (and later prison) that lends Fort St. Mall its name?

Show-and-tell was stunning in the wonderful setting of the AIA Honolulu headquarters, which also provided a great environment to mingle afterwards and talk about upcoming opportunities and events during Architecture Month.

We closed out the day with a raffle and our usual celebratory group photo (fitting everyone in the frame proved challenging).

As always, don’t forget to check out our sketches on Flickr and upload your own!

See you at our next event on April 28 at the Dillingham Transportation Building!

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AIA Central

Positioning ourselves at AIA’s headquarters on Fort Street Mall not only made for a fitting end to our participation in Architecture Month but also offered varied views, from Aloha Tower to modern skyscrapers downtown. Our home base was fully equipped, sheltered, and lit, all courtesy of the AIA Honolulu Center for Architecture. Nice!

We were joined by many newcomers, including professional architects and students of the trade (the latter after an extensive courtship), which allowed us to form an almost perfect oval around a square desk during show-and-tell. Lloyd shared with us his philosophy of documenting his travels exclusively through sketches, rather than photos, as well as some of his work from trips to Malaysia, Nepal, and Bhutan. A professional architect by day, Lloyd uses HB pencil and a mini ruler to quickly position his sketches and keep those straight lines straight. Eyes were also drawn to Purnima’s full-size pastel painting which stood out among the (mostly) pen and pencil sketches.

Homemade mochi and a raffle closed out our day. Although this was our final sketch event for Architecture Month, AIA Honolulu has many more activities planned for April. Mahalo nui to Mayumi for suggesting and helping set up this fitting collaboration – we hope to do it again in 2017!

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Don’t forget to check out the day’s sketches on the USkO Flickr page.

See you at the next event on May 7!


Next Architecture Month Event!


Straight Lines, Slanted

Yesterday’s evening event at the King Kalākaua Building offered the kind of challenges and opportunities we had envisaged for Architecture Month. Tight spaces, columns, arches, domed ceilings, tall buildings, ornate details, and – as a non-architectural bonus – quickly fading daylight.

A good turnout, which included several architects, made show-and-tell particularly lively and enlightening. Mayumi, representing AIA, the co-sponsor of our two architecture-themed events this month, treated us to a short introduction to the historical and architectural aspects of the building (the stylized hibiscus flowers in the Corinthian column capitals featured prominently in several sketches). A common theme during our conversation was the struggle to maintain perspective in our depictions of soaring buildings from up close. Jon’s sketch of the space between office buildings (and the narrative he provided with it) provided perspective in more than an architectural sense. Wide-angle views complemented sketches of particularly attractive details (oh, those Corinthian capitals!), some of which became the focus of our sketches unintentionally as the rest of the scene fell off the page, lost to our misjudgment of perspective.

Finally, as cookies made the rounds, we raffled off a few sketching-related items that were well received by the winning parties. Architecture Month continues with our second event downtown on April 16 – see you there!

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Don’t forget to check out Thursday’s sketches on the USkO Flickr page.


AIA Architecture Walking Tour

Last Saturday we (AJ, Harald, and I) attended the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Architecture Walking Tour “Downtown Honolulu – 20th Century Architectural Styles”. Although AIA regularly offers tours throughout the year this one was only offered once in 2015 as part of Architecture Month.

For two hours I learned about the history and styles of buildings in the business district – a place I have spent little time in and have not cared for much before. By the end of the tour I no longer saw downtown as just a jumble of high-rises. Each building has its own story. For example, the No.1 Capitol District Building was originally the site of the first Royal Hawaiian Hotel commissioned under King Kamehameha V and opened in 1872 to host foreign dignitaries and friends of the royal family. The hotel was then converted to a YMCA in 1917 and used by the military in World War I and II. In 1926, while in military use, the hotel was demolished and a Spanish mission revival style building was erected which has housed the Hawaii State Art Museum since 2000.  An art museum in Honolulu that I was aware of, but had not been to. Will have to pay it a visit soon… It is located on the aptly-named South Hotel Street.

The final historically significant structure we visited was the Aloha Tower. Built in 1926 it originally served as a lighthouse but was decommissioned in the late 1960s and is now being revitalized by Hawaii Pacific University. The view from the observation deck is outstanding. In order not to be in the way (and view) of other visitors to the deck, we decided to sketch the tower and its surroundings from the marketplace.