The Hawaiian Islands Through the Eyes of Vladimir Ossipoff

At the Liljestrand House overlooking Honolulu. Photo: Robert (Bob) Liljestrand 2019.

2 islands, 5 planes, 10 days and 19 architectural sites, and 4,755 miles traveled with a 2-month old baby!

I am extremely grateful to the Clemson University School of Architecture and the Mickel family for this amazing opportunity to travel and study the work of Vladimir Ossipoff with the award of the Mickel Prize.

Below I will lay out all the sites visited and in subsequent posts I’ll share a few thematic essays of my thoughts from the trip along with more photos and drawings.

Vladimir Ossipoff building sites (in order):

1. IBM Building by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1962.

Personal tour lead by Rob Young of Ward Village, a development company that is the current occupant of the building. Fun fact: Rob Young used to be a news caster in Clemson! He remembers doing a report on the opening of the Walker Golf Course as well as covering the Carolina Panthers used to play in Death Valley.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

2. University of Hawaii Archives.

Along with the Ossipoff sites, I also visited the archives at University of Hawaii where I was able to pull from over 66 boxes of his drawings housed there.

Sketch by Vladimir Ossipoff of one the schemes of the Pacific Tropical Botanical Gardens.

3. Goodsill House by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1952.

Tour lead by Allison Wong of Honolulu Museum of Art, the current owners of the residence. Bought to be the directors residence, although it currently sits vacant as the current director does not live there and they are considering what they may do with the building in the future.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

4. Outrigger Canoe Club by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1963.

Private sporting club still in active use and loved by all of its members. The building is not far from Waikiki Beach, where the famous canoes depart as well as many kayakers and surfers. It is currently undergoing some minor repairs and accessibility renovations while remaining open. I was given a tour and had the opportunity to have lunch with architect Nate Smith who is currently heading the repairs and who also worked on the Thurston Chapel.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

5. Bachman Hall formerly the University of Hawaii Administration Building by Fisk, Johnson, Ossipoff, and Preis, 1949.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

6. The Pacific Club by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1959.

Premiere private social club that is still very well liked and attending by its members. I was given a tour by member Bob Liljestrand prior to viewing the Liljestrand House. It was great to see it through his eyes as a photographer and former friend of Vladimir Ossipoff. He made sure to lead me through in the progression in which was intended by design.

photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

7. Liljestrand House by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1952.

I was able to tag along on the public tour the foundation gives weekly as well as a private tour later with Bob Liljestrand.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

8. Hawaii Life Insurance Building by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1951.

Don Hibbard, historian and contributor on the book, “Hawaiian Modern” gave me a fantastic tour of Honolulu with a fast lesson of the architecture of the Hawaiian Islands as we toured the works of Vladimir Ossipoff. We had a whirlwind trip visiting sites 8 – 14 in one day.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

9. Blue Cross Veterinary Hospital by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1938.

Still operating today as a veterinary hospital.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

10. Hawaii Medical Library, Queens Medical Center by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1961.

Operating today as an office building for the Queens Medical Center. The interiors have been adapted for the new use.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

11. First National Bank Branch by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1961.

Still operating as the same bank branch today. All of the First National Bank branches throughout the Hawaiian Islands have a unique architectural character. This is not like what we’re used to on the mainland as kitsch architecture, where a Denver franchise of McDonalds has a heavy timber approach. Instead each branch location took on a different architect with a different philosophy and makes for unique buildings in all locations.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

12. Liberty Bank by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1952.

Still operating as a bank in bustling Chinatown. Ossipoff used Fung Shui in the design and it is noticed immediately as you enter through a staircase that curves up to the bank tellers which are elevated off of the street. This is to block the evil spirits from entering.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

13. AIEA United Methodist Church Sanctuary by Vladimir Ossipoff, approximately 1960.

Don Hibbard and I popped in on this church because we were in the vicinity, and it turned out we had discovered a hidden gem. Not widely spoke about as one of his prized works, although I believe it carries a many of his best concepts. The pastor says the natural ventilation operates really well, although it can get hot when the sanctuary is packed. It is obvious that there was a strong relationship between the original client and Ossipoff, because he was able to carry out some unique concepts that I feel work very well for the parishioners. I will go into more description about this in my essay here.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

14. Diamond Head apartments by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1958.

The first all pre-stressed steel reinforced concrete building taller than six stories in the United States. Still operating as a highly sought-after condo building.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

15. Robert Shipman Thurston Jr., Memorial Chapel, Punahoe School by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1967.

The building is in fantastic shape, with some recent minor repairs and alteration by Nate Smith Architects. With many years operating with natural ventilation via stack effect, the vents have been closed with glass and the chapel is now air conditioned. Fun fact; Punahoe School was the school in which President Barack Obama attended.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

16. Hale Nukumoi by Walker Warner Architects, 2018.

Greg Warner was the lead architect on this house. He grew up in Hawaii on the big island and has been inspired by Ossipoff’s work. I also had the opportunity to interview Greg prior to my visit, see my post here.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

17. National Tropical Botanical Gardens Administration Building by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1981-92.

I was given a personal tour by Chipper Whichman, the organization’s president. Chipper started as an intern and worked his way up the ranks to CEO.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

18. National Tropical Botanical Gardens Research Building by Dean Sakamoto, 2008.

Built to withstand a CAT-5 hurricane or 200 MPH winds. Houses a rare book collection as well as endangered seed collection and must maintain a constant relative humidity of 50.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

19. Honolulu International Airport by Vladimir Ossipoff, 1970-78.

Currently undergoing some major renovations, as most airports are, but you can find pieces of original architecture throughout.

Photo by Chelsea Anderson 2019.

AuthorChelsea Anderson

Award-winning architect Chelsea Anderson is the founder and lead architect of Habitable Form and lecturer for the Clemson University Graduate School of Architecture at the Clemson Design Center Charleston.

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