Above: The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

In theMauna Kea Beach Hotel’s boutique, I purchased a few postcards with aerial photos of the hotel and its broad sweep of private beach. It occurred to me that this image, frequently used to promote the property, makes the building look like a bland and boxy eyesore. The ingeniousness of the design ofSkidmore, Owings & Merrill, one of the world’s most renowned architectural firms, doesn’t reveal itself until you experience it firsthand. Soaring structural columns, carefully painted to match the hue of the beach, support an airy lobby that focuses attention out toward the sea, an effect enhanced by the sapphire-blue tile floors. The delightful indoor-outdoor feel of the design now looks familiar, but it was the Mauna Kea that started the trend.

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Above: The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

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