As I approach my midcentury birthday, I am, at the moment, sitting in Honolulu. Paul thought we should do something I've never done before to mark the occasion, and so here we are in Hawaii 5-0, awaiting my 5-0. It's thrilling.
I have never been on a tropical island vacation before. That's not entirely true. I went to Jamaica with my parents when I was 4. I have a vague memory of a glass bottomed boat and a legendary witch. But that doesn't really change my point: Little in my personal experience has prepared me for Hawaii, so I've had to rely on important cultural resources: The Brady Bunch, Lost, and Gilligan's Island. Unfortunately, none of these have been much help, as I have not stumbled across a cursed tiki, a smoke monster, nor a B-movie actress with a penchant for baking coconut cream pies.
Instead of my usual well-researched (#nerd) vacation, we're playing this trip largely by ear, which means we've missed out on Pearl Harbor (sold out before we even got here, apparently) and lucked into a tour of Shangri La (thank you, 1:30 pm tour no-shows). We took in a lot of terrific art - maybe too much, as we couldn't really absorb much by the time we got to the overwhelming Bishop Museum. (Though I have retained what a Kahili is.) We've also trusted the cuisine recommendations of locals and have not been let down. (Make a note to visit Uncle Bo's Pupu Bar when you come to Honolulu.) We've also seen a couple of stunning sunsets.
But, to the relevance of this blog, we did visit the unique Hawaii State Capitol building. With qualities similar to Lincoln Center, the Mark Taper Forum, and great American performing arts centers of the early 60s, this government building also shares properties with Oscar Niemeyer's federal buildings in Brasilia. It stands near the Iolani Palace, home of the former royal family, surrounded by water, with dramatic pillars and an interior atrium that is open to the sky where a typical Capitol would have a dome. The materials appear to include native volcanic rock and stone. On the floor of the atrium is a beautiful tile mosaic. I've never seen this structure on a list of "must-see" modernist designs, but it has a majesty, symmetry, and beauty. Look at the photos below and judge for yourself. (The inner chambers were not open, but Google "Hawaii Capitol Chambers" and look at the images. They appear inspired by the UN Building in NYC.)
Note: For some reason, Typepad is publishing my vertical photos on their side. If you click on the sideways photos, a properly oriented photo will appear. Or, you can tilt your head to one side.