Posted by: loomisisc | December 16, 2009

Letters on Honolulu Rail, Dispute Over Island Architecture

In the Editorial section of today’s Honolulu Advertiser, there were two letters on rail transit.  One for (‘System will benefit public in 3 big ways’ by Kealii Flood of Kailua), and one against (‘There’s no excuse for continuing error’ by William Kibby, a retired architect in Honolulu).

Flood breaks down the rail benefits into three simple benefits: “First, improving traffic. Second, creating jobs for local folks. Third, creating a better Oahu for our children.” These points are sound and can stand alone.

Conversely, Kibby goes after points made by Alicia Maluafiti of Go Rail Go in her letter from Dec. 7 entitled,Give ‘visual impact’ arguments a break.” Maluafiti wrote, “Architects began building their 30-story skyscrapers with little thought or concern for the residents living on the mauka side of their buildings.”  In response, Kibby wrote, “Condos and hotels have blocked views in our city over the past 50 years, but that is no excuse to continue the same mistakes for the next 50 with an intrusive, view-blocking heavy-rail project.And please don’t be blaming the architects.”

However, the irony of Kibby’s position (as a retired architect) and that of the vocal AIA architects, is that their work is partly responsible for the structures that originally altered island’s landscape, despite their plea to yield blame. “The American Institute of Architects is putting visual impact of an elevated rail before the obvious economic, safety and efficiency benefits to riders, drivers and pedestrians,” wrote Maluafiti. So regardless of the facade that the anti-elevated-rail architectural community builds, it appears that the foundation of their argument lacks sound stability.

Thanks to the Honolulu Advertiser for providing decent point and counterpoint letters for their readers.

Also, if you’re new to the site and have an opinion, please use the COMMENT section below.



  1. Good assessment of the architects’ stance on “visual blight.” Another dozen or more architect-designed high-rise buildings for Kaka`ako are on the drawing boards right now — each 300 feet or taller. The architects’ upset over a 30-foot-tall structure that will allow riders to completely avoid traffic congestion and predict their time of arrival is remarkably near-sighted.

  2. […] Adding to the fragility of the anti-elevated rail argument by some local architects on Dec. 16th, the Honolulu Advertiser ran this letter,  ELEVATED SYSTEM OFFERS BEST CHOICE, over the weekend […]

  3. […] A month ago, Reality Rail posted an interesting weakness in collective argument from local architects against the elevated rail plans. Both side of the argument will be present at the State Capitol on Martin Luther King Day for the public forum scheduled by Governor Lingle from 9 – 11am. […]

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