Located in Honolulu, the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial was completed in 1927 to honor the 10,000 men and women of Hawaii during the Great War. This national treasure sits east of Kaimana Beach and was built in the Beaux-Arts architectural style. With its official closing in 1963 the natatorium continues to deteriorate as we speak. There have been countless arguments between demolishing the structure and others opposing to preserve it. This ongoing argument has posed the question of What can be done to help maintain and preserve the Waikiki Natatorium? Several proposals have been made and the most recent design concept, headed by Hans Krock and Alfred Yee, was revealed to the public earlier this year.
As a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Architecture program, I have taken interest in putting together a dissertation proposal in preserving the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial. Though the issue at hand is finding a way to restore the pool, what is to happen after full restoration? There are many beaches along the shoreline of Waikiki that both locals and tourists can swim in without worry of tainted water and their safety.
With its shutting down to the public and being a living memorial to honor the lives of those lost in World War I, public awareness is a major issue that needs to be addressed. How can the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial be reintegrated into Honolulu’s urban fabric? What can be done to keep the memorial and natatorium alive through generations?
Preserving the memorial structure and the pool are essential in continuing the commemoration of the men and women of Hawaii in World War I, but its stature isn’t enough to keep it maintained for years to come. Why should people care? What makes the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial significant today?
In gathering thoughts and research, I believe a story that goes alongside the commemoration of the memorial will bring interest to the public and give new purpose for the natatorium memorial to re-open. When this happens, new life is given to the memorial that will guarantee its continued legacy of honoring the fallen heroes of Hawaii in the Great War. In part of making the Waikiki Natatorium have new life, I proposed several options in what could give the natatorium awareness and appreciation of its state. If a museum was built that exhibited a story of how Hawaii was involved in the Great War, locals and non-locals would obtain knowledge and come to understand the importance the state brought to America as a territory. Another possibility is to allow functions such as weddings, parties, and other events to bring people together to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the ocean horizon. This would definitely attract people and local businesses in allowing the site to have purpose.
To hear more about my research on the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, please join Minatoishi Architects on May 11, 2017 at 10:00AM for a presentation I will be presenting for the UHM School of Architecture Praxis Program.
Author Veronica Ige is a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Architecture program. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Architecture and a Minor in Interior Design from Louisiana Tech University. Veronica is currently in the SoA Praxis program of the Spring 2017 semester as an intern for Minatoishi Architects. She has been doing research on historic preservation of war memorials, focusing her studies on the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial.