HONOLULU -- The American Institute of Architects is starting a
90-minute walking tour of 20 of this city's most significant
"We feel the downtown area, from the Mission Houses Museum to
Chinatown, has some of the most interesting architecture in the
country," said AIA executive vice president David Cheever. "There's
a tremendous amount of history here."
The tour, led by an architect familiar with the buildings, will
be up and running in October and will cost $15 for adults and $5
for children ages 6 to 15.
At first glance, the city's architecture doesn't look
remarkable. The planning of many of the residential neighborhoods
seems to have been uninspired, and storefronts and buildings in
most places are little more than big boxes of concrete and
But downtown Honolulu is different.
There's the royal palace, which really looks like a royal palace; a
church made of coral; a section of street paved with ballast stones
from ships that came here in the 1800s; the ornate neoclassical
Hawaii Theater; the stately Ali'iolani Hale where the Hawaii
Supreme Court sits, and a few others.
"How often in other cities," Cheever asked, "will you find
buildings built in Boston and shipped over here, as is the case
with the Mission Houses?"
Cheever said there are many little-known facts to be discovered,
"like [images of] Kamehameha V and Queen Emma in the stained glass
in St. Andrew's Cathedral," and many questions to pique the
visitor's interest, such as "why does Ali'iolani Hale have a series
of pillars across the top?"
Cheever said the AIA in Honolulu got 300 calls from local
residents wanting to go on the tour after it was announced.
Other gems in the tour are the State Capitol, which was built so
that legislators cannot walk from their offices to the chambers
without passing public demonstration areas; Iolani Barracks, made
in 1870 with 4,000 cement blocks, and a royal mausoleum.
Each tour will be limited to 10 people. They will start at the
AIA offices at 1128 Nu'uanu Ave. downtown at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays
For reservations, call the American Institute of Architects
weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Hawaii time. (2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Tour participants also can buy a glossy, 24-page handbook
offering information on the buildings from the AIA for $9.
Phone: (808) 545-4242