Designing Isle Places, Spaces

By Philip White
President of Philip White Architects

As architects, we have a responsibility to our island community and neighborhoods. Architecture is more than just buildings. It’s about our community, our past, present and future.

As Hawaii grows, our connections to the land, ocean and people are changing, weakening maybe. These changing connections are transforming our physical community. We are continuing the evolution that began when people first came to Hawaii.

Philip White

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Philip White

Our physical community includes roads, parks, buildings and neighborhoods. All of these elements impact our daily quality of life. If you doubt this premise, consider the resident of Hawaii as compared to one from New York. Of course, the two cultures are different, but it is not unreasonable to consider that these differences are attributable to the different places where the residents were brought up. Different landscapes, cityscapes and ocean environments will have different influences on the spirit of the people.

The design of our communities and neighborhoods impacts our sense of well-being. How we perceive our environment changes our community spirit. Think of your daily routine – how much time do you spend in the car, at work, with your family, looking at the mountains, gazing at the ocean … all these things add up. And they are all a result of the design of our buildings, communities, neighborhoods, roads and planning processes.

Buildings and the spaces around them affect the health and spirit of the community. For example, more daylight, natural ventilation and views of nature have a dramatic impact upon health, education and productivity. Buildings consume more than 50 percent of fossil fuels in Hawaii, cementing our dependence on oil from unstable areas of the globe and sending billions of dollars overseas.

Design is a process that plans and produces where we live and that makes our lives better. At Philip White Architects, we focus on planning neighborhoods and buildings that leave Hawaii a better place.

April is Architecture Month at AIA Honolulu, and I encourage you to visit or to learn about architects and how they impact our community.