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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

IBM Building, Once Fated for Razing, to be Remodeled

The structure designed by isle architect Vladimir Ossipoff will retain its punch-card facade
2/1/13: Honolulu’s historic IBM Building is going to get a $20 million makeover, though the name and general look of the 51-year-old building in Kakaako will remain the same.

The building’s owner, The Howard Hughes Corp., told the Star-Advertiser on Thursday it plans to convert part of the office building into a sales and information center for its master plan to transform Ward Centers into a 60-acre urban village dotted with 22 new condominium towers, shops and restaurants over more than 15 years.

Renovation work began recently and is slated to be completed in the fall.

The IBM name and the building’s concrete sunshade grille will be preserved, Hughes Corp. said.

As part of the renovation, the ground floor will become an information center, presenting the future vision for the area as well as a history of the property that was once part of a kama­aina family estate known as Old Plantation established by Victoria Robinson and Curtis Ward.

The top two floors of the six-story building will become a condo sales center and feature model units.

Two exterior additions on the makai side of the building will be made — sand-colored outcroppings on the ground floor and penthouse level. The parking lot on the makai side of the building will become a landscaped courtyard.

Nick Vanderboom, senior vice president of development for Hughes Corp., said the company wanted to let the building’s distinct architectural look serve as an iconic and historic landmark as the new vision for Ward Village takes shape.

“We look forward to the IBM Building becoming an integral part of the vision for Ward Village,” he said. “It is rewarding to bring new purpose to this iconic structure.”

The building, designed by famed Hawaii architect Vladi­mir Ossipoff, is largely recognized for its grille.

Sid Snyder, a friend and business partner of the late Ossipoff, recalled that the grille was supposed to resemble IBM computer punch cards. Snyder said in a statement that he appreciates the preservation.

“The building’s classic grille is being preserved and the unique character is respected,” he said.

The building previously had been among Ward Centers structures to be demolished and replaced under an initial master plan unveiled in 2008 by the property’s previous owner, General Growth Properties.

The earlier plan led to a public call to preserve the building. Hughes Corp., a Texas-based development firm, acquired Ward Centers from General Growth in 2010 and announced a revised master plan in October.

Under the new master plan, 22 residential towers with 4,300 units will be added to the area along with 5 million square feet of retail space and 4 million square feet for office and other use.

An initial phase that includes one moderate-priced and two market-priced residential towers is projected to break ground in early 2014 if specific design and permitting approvals are granted by the Hawaii Community Development Authority, a state agency regulating development in Kakaako.

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