The Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu – Explained

Hawaii Convention CenterA lot of visitors to Honolulu ask me about the unique design and history of the Hawaii Convention Center near Waikiki. It’s a massive building. It cost over $200 million to build back in the late 1990s and has more than 1.1 million square feet of usable space. The building is owned by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) but strangely, they outsource the management of it to a California company (such practices are why we have low paying jobs and a stagnant economy here in Hawaii).

Hawaii Convention Center

The State of Hawaii was the contractor and the architect was LMN from Seattle, Washington.  This is their statement on the Convention Center:

The design celebrates Hawai`i through innovative functional planning, ecological responsiveness and a unique expression of place. Designed before sustainable design gained popularity, the facility employs energy conservation and passive building systems as integrated aspects of the architectural experience.

The building is configured on the site to capture Hawaii’s trade winds and optimize natural ventilation of public spaces.  More than 60 percent of the center, including lobbies, registration, pre-function areas and concourses, are open to the sky and shaded with trellis structures to provide abundant daylight while maintaining human comfort.

References to traditional building forms and landscape elements reinforce the connection to Hawaiian landscape and culture—expressed in roof shape, structural columns, and a series of folded fabric roof “sails” that induce air flow and create a dramatic civic presence.

Addressing its urban context, the building provides active edges on all four sides by enveloping the functional service areas within the building massing.  Landscaped public terraces are designed for a diverse range of active and passive use, integrating the entire facility into its active pedestrian environment.

The interior architects were Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WATG), one of the most successful firms to be born in Honolulu. Their idea was to incorporate Hawaiian quilt motifs and representation of Hawaii nature throughout the interior and exterior elements.

Hawaii Convention Center

It has been voted the most beautiful convention center in the world! The iconic sails on top represent the original Polynesian voyagers who became the Hawaiian people. It has appeared in many TV shows and movies including LOST and Hawaii 5-0.

Hawaii Convention Center Com Con

Our personal favorite events that happen there are Hawaii Comic Con and the Honolulu Festival but there are many more events, expos, and conferences that take place at the HCC.

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