Respecting Architectural Traditions at Punahou School

Punahou School was established in 1841 to educate the children of Congregational missionaries, on land given by Governor Boki and his wife Liliha to the Reverend and Mrs. Hiram Bingham. Over the years, many distinctive buildings, in styles from Mission-era to contemporary, have been added to the campus, listed on the National Register in 1971. Mason Architects, working with PBR Hawai‘i, prepared Design Guidelines to ensure that the campus remains visually unified and respects the school’s historic traditions as it fulfills academic functions for the various levels of student development.

  • The campus was divided into nine “neighborhoods” and specific guidelines were created for each, to reinforce its identity and traditions yet retain its consistency within the larger community.
  • Mason Architects developed the architectural guidelines for the campus and for each neighborhood, analyzing its
    • Architectural character
    • Significant architectural features and materials
    • Building scale and massing.
  • The guidelines emphasized that new buildings should be compatible with historic buildings but should express the ideas of their own time.
  • Guidelines were drawn for such elements as form, orientation, height, materials, and accessibility.
  • In a later project, Mason Architects prepared Architectural Inventory Surveys for Wilcox Hall and Mary Persis Winne Classroom Units to assess the impacts of proposed changes.
  • MAI also worked with Cultural Surveys Hawai‘i on the creation of an Archaeological Memorandum of Understanding regarding development in the oldest sections of the school.
  • MAI also evaluated the historical integrity and significance of the remaining portions of the Ka’ahumanu Wall at the perimeter of the campus.

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Map: PBR Hawai‘i.

Ka Punahou (the new spring) flows into pools inside Robert Shipman Thurston, Jr. Memorial Chapel, designed by Vladimir Ossipoff in 1967.