Living Spaces

What makes a dwelling a place you long to return to? The experts say it happens by design.


Story by Rita Goldman

maui homesHONOR AWARD
Plantation Estates Residence
Kapalua, Maui
Category: Residential
Architect: Morgan Gerdel, Assoc. AIA
Design/Builder: Architectural Design & Construction, Inc.
Interior Designers: Ahura Designs, Kreiss
Landscape Designer: Chris Hart and Partners
Kitchen Designer: Cutting Edge Studio

Jurors’ comments: The Z-shaped plan and careful siting of this residence maximize the potential of a dramatic site, offering panoramic ocean views from all spaces while minimizing the scale of the structure. Cross ventilation of all rooms and ample protection from sun and wind are commendable environmental considerations. Architectural detailing is straightforward and skillfully executed. This sizeable home creates a stately and distinctively Hawaiian presence.

Keawekapu Beach Residence
Kihei, Maui
Category: Residential
Architect: Durwin Kiyabu, AIA
Design/Builder: Architectural Design & Construction, Inc.
Interior Designer: Ahura Designs
Landscape Designer: Ultimate Innovations, Inc.
Kitchen Designer: Cutting Edge Studio

Jurors’ comments: This noteworthy, two-level contemporary Hawaiian home is quietly nestled within a series of beachfront residences. The design is an effective solution to the confines of a narrow site.

A progression of intimate, tropically landscaped courtyards creates an enduring atmosphere of tranquil sanctuary. The entry court offers natural light and ventilation for all facing rooms. The main living/activity spaces open graciously to an oceanfront terrace, allowing views of the ocean and beyond. This home combines environmental spatial elegance, refined detailing, and careful planning for indoor-outdoor island living to achieve an enduring and exemplary architecture.

Ka‘anapali, Maui
Category: Residence
Architect: Anthony Riecke-Gonzales, AIA,
Riecke Sunnland Kono Architects, Ltd.
General Contractor: Crown Construction
Interior Designer: Beverly Johnsen Design
Landscape Designer: Maxwell Design Group
Landscaping: Hawaiian Isle Landscape

Jurors’ comments: The architect, in adapting a Balinese design required by the client, achieves spatial openness while providing privacy throughout the house. The design creates a delightful interplay of indoor and outdoor spaces and complements the integration of Indonesian art pieces acquired by the client. The home is effectively tucked into a very limited-size lot, which demonstrates the creative skill of the architect.

Lana‘i Residence
Lana‘i City, Lana‘i
Category: Historic Preservation/Adaptive Reuse
Architect: Jim Niess, AIA, Maui Architectural Group
General Contractor: New Technology Construction
Interior Designer: Kim Rosborough
Landscape Designer: Richard William Wogisch

Jurors’ comments: This historic home has been meticulously restored incorporating modern residential features while preserving the grandeur of a large Hawai‘i plantation house. The contemporary landscape design leading to the formal entrance creatively enhances the sense of arrival. The home is an elegant and understated example of fine residential design.

Hana Community Center
Hana, Maui
Category: Historic Preservation/Adaptive Reuse
Architect: Jim Niess, AIA,
Maui Architectural Group
General Contractor:
Maui Masterbuilders

Jurors’ comments: This structure, originating from the plantation era, has evolved through several functional iterations. It has been restored from a dilapidated historic building into a viable public social center—becoming a source of civic pride for this small, rural Maui community.

The Jurors
Raymond Yeh, FAIA, Honolulu. Dean, School of Architecture, University of Hawai‘i–Manoa

Chris Cowan, Maui. Former president and CEO of the Maui Arts & Cultural Center; ceramist, strategic-planning/development consultant

John Hara, FAIA, Honolulu. Principal, John Hara Associates, Inc.

David McKinley, FAIA, Maui. Former principal in Kirk Wallace McKinley; and McKinley Architects, Seattle

Diane Haynes-Woodburn, Maui. Editor and publisher, Maui No Ka ʻOi Magazine

In 2005, the Maui Chapter of the American Institute of Architects did something it hadn’t done in nearly a decade: hosting a countywide competition to recognize architectural excellence, and to encourage public understanding of the role good design plays in creating not simply attractive homes, but vibrant communities.

The five jurors charged with this daunting task were Raymond Yeh, John Hara, and David McKinley, all AIA fellows; and two lay people with strong design backgrounds, Christina Cowan and Diane Haynes-Woodburn. We asked them and Competition Committee Co-Chair Phil Johnson to talk about the 2005 AIA Maui Design Awards, and the reasons behind their selections.


MNKO: What were the competition’s parameters?

Phil Johnson: Any member of AIA’s Maui Chapter could enter, architects or designers. There were 22 submissions in various categories, including residential, “green” building, commercial and historic preservation. Projects could also be entered on interior design.

David McKinley: Entrants submitted presentation boards and folders, and descriptions of the owners’ requirements.

Johnson: We spent a morning looking at the presentation materials, talking about what we liked and didn’t like, winnowing the submissions. That afternoon and on two other days, we visited the sites. In the end, we picked two categories: residential and historic preservation/adaptive reuse.

Raymond Yeh: This was a tough jury with high standards. We were looking for projects with a real sense of place, ones that fit the island. The project didn’t have to be big budget or have a spectacular site. A good designer will work with what he has. Sometimes adversity encourages innovation.

McKinley: You look at whether the design achieves the right atmosphere, proportion, and orientation. Does it provide character and privacy? The list goes on and on. A trained architect will appreciate a design’s restraint, elegance, or simplicity.

MNKO: But two-fifths of the jury weren’t architects!

Yeh: Excellence in architecture always starts with people. It’s important that architects recognize this. They need to understand the individuals who will use the building, and the context of the project. Without that understanding, an architect can have all the technical capabilities, and the result won’t be that great. So I think it’s good to have non-architects. Diane and Chris were great.

Christina Cowan: Diane and I were intimidated at first. We didn’t know what we could bring to the process. When we started looking at all the applications, we asked about the criteria. Phil said, “You decide. That’s your first task.” That was fascinating. It brought a level of creativity to the jurying that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. We discussed how to look at things, how they related to Maui and Hawai‘i. It was rich conversation.

Diane brought up one of the most interesting comments. She’d check out the kitchens, and after looking at several, said, “I can only think that the owners don’t do their own cooking.” Both of us entertain, and we want to be able to face our guests while we’re cooking. Having a kitchen that opens to a dining or living room is common to Hawai‘i. It’s important to think about: you don’t want to have your back to your guests.

MNKO: What role did budget play?

Johnson: The winners weren’t necessarily in the highest range, and the jury didn’t award grandiose buildings. Architecture is supposed to support people. The winners needed to have a human scale, and say something about the quality of living
in Hawai‘i.

MNKO: A sense of place is mentioned in the jury’s comments, yet one of the winners is a home with a Balinese theme and Balinese materials.

Johnson: There was a lot of discussion as to what was “Maui.” The Bali-themed house worked well on its small site. It was good architecture, and solved the owners’ requirements of having a suitable setting for their sizeable collection of Balinese art.

McKinley: A place is also an expression of the time it is in. Culture grows and evolves. A plantation community becomes a multicultural population; the people coming in have an influence. We’re in an era that has a lot of West Coast, Far East, and other influences. We considered the home’s orientation: to the view, the climate, the trade winds. . . . “Contemporary Hawaiian” is a good description for this project,
this time.

We did get one or two entries with Hawaiian motifs, but they weren’t distinctive. We also considered a “green,” energy-efficient house in South Maui, but nothing about it said “Hawai‘i.”

MNKO: Can you give an example of a design that was perfect for where it was built?

John Hara: I thought the Keawekapu residence was absolutely brilliant. Despite all the constraints—the very narrow site, the density of the neighborhood—it was a very comfortable house with a wonderful progression of spaces and the right use of materials.

I’m not a fan of the term “sense of place”; it’s really a matter of good design. And though style is what sells, I think substance is more important. It has to do with purpose and integrity, the flawless integration of structure and intent.

A great design doesn’t have to have a Dickey roof, or tapa on the walls. The Keawekapu house had no particular style, but it beautifully captured the attributes of the site.

McKinley: Historic preservation is a difficult category, too. You’re looking at so many elements. Was the building noteworthy when it was built? Does it lend a historic footnote to the community?

Cowan: I had seen Hana School when it was falling down, and was impressed that the community cared enough have it restored, amazed at how well the architect retained the feeling of the old school while completely renovating the structure. The building is really a symbol of the Hana community.

MNKO: Besides calling attention to the importance of historic preservation, why are competitions like this needed?

Yeh: They’re good for the community. They show what it takes to achieve excellent design. A project doesn’t have to be big budget, or have an ideal site. You work with what you have, consider the context, solve the problem. Hawai‘i has some really good architects, but it also takes a client who’s
willing to listen.

McKinley: Building in Hawai‘i is always a challenge. All the materials have to be shipped in, which adds about 18 percent to the cost. And the timing of when you need them and when they arrive doesn’t always work out. Every building in Hawai‘i should get an award just for being built!

The important thing here was to honor and encourage quality architecture on Maui. All of us on the jury encourage AIA’s Maui Chapter to hold this competition more often.


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