Designing the world’s most expensive hotel

  • Skidmore, Owings & Merrill San Francisco Senior Consulting Design Partner Craig Hartman will give a a one-hour presentation at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on Saturday, Dec. 5. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Soon after Mauna Kea Beach Hotel opened in July 1965, Esquire magazine immediately named it one of the “three greatest hotels in the world” and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) presented the hotel an Honor Award citing “restrained detailing and fine spatial sequences.”

A decade later, AIA placed Mauna Kea on its prestigious America’s Favorite Architecture list. When all was said and done, venture capitalist Laurance S. Rockefeller’s creation on Hawaii Island’s Kohala Coast was the most expensive hotel ever built at the time, to the tune of $15 million, more than $113 million in today’s dollars.

Leading architectural firm Skidmore, Owings &Merrill (SOM) was commissioned by Rockefeller to provide design options for the hotel. Nine schemes were presented from their East and West Coast offices. The story of how “Scheme 7” was selected is fascinating.

On Saturday, Dec. 5 at 5 p.m., SOM San Francisco Senior Consulting Design Partner Craig Hartman will be at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel to give a complimentary one-hour talk story presentation in the Lloyd Sexton Gallery on Atrium Level. There, he will share background on the scheme-that-almost-was, what happened on the head-to-head design war between their own offices, and how SOM designers Chuck Bassett and Mark Goldstein ultimately came through with the design for the mega-structure of 154 guestrooms that addressed all of Rockefeller’s must haves and have-nots.

Hartman’s talk story will include insight and anecdotes about the challenges and rewards of designing the award-winning, mid-century modern Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, a display of archival images during the construction, as well as a slide presentation. Reservations are not required.

Copyright 2015 Oahu Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. • Privacy Policy