Economies of the City: Honolulu’s Financial Plaza of the Pacific
Keywords:architecture, public art, commerce, Hawai'i, Brutalism
This paper concerns one monumental architectural structure that defined Honolulu’s business economy and approaches to urban planning in the Central Business District (CBD) during the 1960s – the Financial Plaza of the Pacific. As indicated from its moniker, the design and construction of the edifice highlighted Hawai‘i’s physical location as a global crossroads. The international vision of this “commercial condominium”, and by extension Honolulu, addressed the effects of urban blight and suburban flight that plagued the CBD in the years leading up to, and following, U.S. statehood. The merger of three corporate enterprises (Castle & Cooke, Bank of Hawaii, and American Savings and Loan) at the Financial Plaza of the Pacific functioned as means to display corporate reinvestment in the district. The architects of the project, Leo S. Wou & Associates and Victor Gruen Associates, desired to create a spatially unified environment with outdoor public space and art projects as loci for human interaction. Ultimately, the Financial Plaza of the Pacific reveals the ways in which Honolulu operated – and continues to operate – as a living city spurred by enterprise and revitalization.
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