Waipolu Gallery and Studio

Oahu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, United States

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“It does justice to its site. It is a "jewel-like" project. The details are beautiful, and the narrative is very rich. We loved the fact that it is it minimalist, and yet still warm, engaging, intimate. The way that light enters the gallery is beautiful.”
AIA Pennsylvania Jury



Located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, this private gallery and studio is a sculptural presence existing within an extraordinary natural setting. Designed to showcase the art outside as well as in, its varied spaces house a contemporary art collection as well as frame spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the iconic volcanic peak of Diamond Head.

The Nature of Place

Rather than replicate the traditional Hawaiian character of the main residence, the new spaces have a modern perspective, following the cues of the clients’ art collection while respecting the nature of the site. The primary gallery carefully frames views of Diamond Head and the ocean through its large apertures, while its orientation on the site and precisely positioned overhangs mitigate the tropical sun. Along the property’s edge of the steep site is the studio, with three levels that step down the slope. The land’s natural terracing offers each level its own private entry. Following the topography, articulated landscape connects the new structure to the existing house.

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Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

The Nature of People

The clients desired a gallery that would allow them to enjoy their extensive art collection; they also wished to provide their guests with private accommodations. A glass walkway provides a dramatic transition between the gallery and studio spaces; it protrudes into the gallery space itself to form a floating balcony overlooking the artwork below. On the studio side, the top two levels contain the guest quarters and a home office. The ground-floor level is devoted to an innovative system for art storage that uses pivoting walls for display and storage.

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Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

The Nature of Materials

The gallery is a distinctive copper-clad volume with a curving profile and articulated panels. It is contrasted with a linear studio space, defined by bars of concrete, glass and stainless steel. The two components are joined by a structural glass bridge, which floats over an outdoor limestone staircase linking all three levels. The studio’s internal circulation route is also transparent to the outside through its walls of channel glass. On the other side of the gallery, grass-and-lava steps transition between a rough stone retaining wall and a saw-cut lava wall. The ground-floor entrance to the gallery is through a pivoting teak door, which manifests as a sculptural installation.

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Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

Project Data

Oahu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, United States
2003 – 2009
5,400 sf


Tucker Award
American Architecture Award
Honor Award for Architectural Excellence
Honor Award
Design Award, New Construction Category
Merit Award