Walking tours are a smart way to get oriented toÂ a city or area. An added bonus is if the tour hits oneÂ of your interests. The AIA Honolulu chapter’s walking tour didÂ that for me â€” architecture. So, credit card in hand, I booked the tour.
The AIA Honolulu office isÂ in a bright, downtown corner office. We knocked and were greeted by our tour guide. (I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t get his name). After waiting for the other 2 members of our group, we were off.
For clarification, the Honolulu Architectural Walking Tour is an exteriors tour of about 20 buildings. You don’t get to enter the buildings. But there is still much to see.Â The variety of architecture in a relativelyÂ small area is remarkable. From simple missionary houses to palaces, the architecture tells the tale of Hawai’i’s history and development.
The ‘Iolani Palace, home of Hawaiian royalty, is a major stop on the walking tour. You can book a separate tour through the Palace website and go inside. The timed audio tour was very worthwhile. Sad, but worthwhile.
The Hawai’i State Capitol is a wonder. Completed in 1969 in the International style, the pillars are shaped like palm trees…
surrounded by reflecting poolsÂ like the water that surrounds the islands.
The courtyardÂ reveals a cone-shaped opening, echoing the volcanoes that created the islands.
Lava rock covers large pillars
and a gorgeous mosaic of Italian tile entitled AquariusÂ by Tadashi Sato (recently restored) is centered under the cone.
For something completely different, the lovely St. Andrew’s Cathedral was readying for an event and assembling floral arrangements. As the church was open, we were permitted to go inside.
The stained glass throughout is stunning. John Wallis is the artist.
You watched Hawaii Five-O, right? Here’s the iconic Ali’iolani Hale, a judiciary building.
And the restored Hawai’i Theatre’s marquee is dedicated to Jack Lord!
You can’t have a downtown without a little brutalism.
Speaking of brutal,Â then my camera died. But fortunately, I purchased the $5 booklet by AIA Honolulu by Frank Haines, so I have that.
That’s nice. Sooo, should I go?Â If you are interested in architecture or history and like getting out and about, this is the tour for you.Â It’s a great way to see a Hawai’i many tourists never see.
I’m smitten.Â TellÂ meÂ more.Â On the tour, you will see the YWCA Building, designed by Julia Morgan, architect of Hearst Castle.
LocationÂ AIA Honolulu Center for Architecture,Â 828 Fort Street Mall, Suite 100 in Honolulu. The tour starts at 9am and you’ll be done around 11:30. City buses bound for downtown can get you there.
CostÂ $15, purchased in advance here.Â If there aren’t at least 4 on the tour, it may be cancelled, but they are very organized and will send you email notifications.
TipÂ It will be hot and humid, but there are a few indoor stops to cool off a bit.Â The 2-1/2 hours go quickly, butÂ itÂ would be a long tour for small children.