THREATENED: IBM Building, Honolulu

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Honolulu Star Bulletin

Vol. 13, Issue 62 - Sunday, March 2, 2008

By Nina Wu

The potential doom of the IBM Building designed by the late Vladimir Ossipoff has some architects lamenting the loss of what they consider a historic icon.  General Growth Properties, owners of the building as well as 60 acres in the surrounding Ward Centers, has outlined a vision for an urban village that does not include the building over the next two decades.  But Dean Sakamoto, curator of the recent "Hawaiian Modern" exhibit celebrating Ossipoff's works at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, is advocating for its preservation.  Sakamoto, who grew up in Moanalua and is now director of exhibitions at the Yale School of Architecture, says the IBM Building is an essential part of the collective memory for Hawaii residents.  He says it is an urban landmark, and a significant symbol of its era due to its shape and distinctive grille.  The six-story IBM Building, built in 1962, today houses a handful of businesses, including General Growth itself.  In recent years, it has been dwarfed by shiny, new high-rise condominiums, including the Hokua and Koolani. Across the street, Whole Foods Market is under construction.  Some say that the building is now outdated, and out of sync with the new neighborhood. Others say it's not the best use for the prime real estate site.  But Sid Snyder, Ossipoff's longtime friend and partner at Ossipoff Snyder & Rowland Architects, says the IBM Building is worth keeping, and could be integrated into General Growth's redevelopment plans.

PHOTO: The IBM Building in 1962.  Courtesy Ossipoff Snyder &  Rowland Architects, Robert Wenkam

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