Iolani Palace

project type


year completed


Iolani Palace was built from 1879 to 1882 during the reign of King Kalakaua. Constructed of plastered brick and adorned with six Italianate towers, the Palace grounds are surrounded by a plastered coral block wall topped by an iron fence. Since 1980, MASON has served as project architect for 11 major phases of restoration work, supporting the preservation and interpretation of this National Historic Landmark and living reminder of Hawaii’s proud identity.

Throughout this comprehensive preservation project, our work included the restoration of the Old Archives (Kanaina) Building; restoration of the Coronation Pavilion, fences, gates and walls; reconstruction of the Barracks; improvements to Palace roofing, air-conditioning, and security systems; and the creation of gallery spaces in the basement.


Cast iron columns with a sand paint finish support the lanai structure and roof

Light and moisture levels are carefully controlled to protect the feathered cloak, kahilis, and other artifacts in this gallery.

Project Details

  • MASON has been the project architect for 11 major phases of restoration work on the palace, its accessory buildings/structures, and many other projects. Specialized repair work has included ornamental plaster reconstruction, decorative painting and furnishing reconstruction.
  • Work on the Palace itself includes maintenance of and improvements to the roofing and finishes, upgraded HVAC, installation of new basement exhibit galleries, drawings of historic furnishings for reconstruction, security systems and installation of site lighting and walkways.
  • A 1985 restoration of the 1883 Coronation Pavilion, which had been moved, rebuilt in 1910, and set on a concrete base in 1920.
  • A 1987 restoration and adaptive reuse of the Old Archives (Kanaina) Building as offices for the Friends of Iolani Palace. The building was updated to meet ADA requirements with the installation of an unobtrusively placed access ramp and the creation of new accessible restrooms. Extensive research on historic finishes led to the restoration of historic color schemes, exposing and refinishing stone baseboards, terrazzo flooring and the skylight in the primary historic spaces.
  • New basement galleries allow the public to view the royal crowns, royal jewelry, a feathered cloak and kahilis, articles collected by King Kalakaua on his travels, and other regalia in specially designed cases in three climate-controlled galleries.ries.
  • Work on the grounds included restoration of the original entrance gates, the Kalakaua Fountain and various pergolas, reconstruction of guard shacks, re-creation of the original entrance pillars, as well as installation of walkways and historically inspired benches.


Historic Hawaii Foundation

Historic Preservation Honor Award, 2016


  • Project Feasibility Studies
  • Historic Structure Reports (HSR) and Existing Condition Surveys
  • Historic paint color analysis
  • Historic material research and analysis
  • Project Programming and Space Planning
  • Design and construction documents for the restoration, rehabilitation, and preservation of historic properties
  • Construction Administration

Galley to display royal crowns, royal jewelry, and articles collected by King Kalakaua on his travels.

Left: Old Archives Building (Kanaina); Right: Iolani Barracks.

Coronation Pavilion restored in 1985, and rehabilitated in 2021

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