Sunday, March 17, 2013

Airport Terminal Design Matters

Walking through the American Airlines Terminal at JFK, designed by AECOM and completed in 2008, is a reminder how transportation facility design matters as a joyful and efficient first/last impression of a destination. While not extravagant, this terminal is simple in layout, has abundant natural and discreet artificial lighting, uses a durable and attractive material palette, and is lined with retail shops that seem to be placed by a museum curator. However, the best part of this experience - which could not be photographed - is TSA's pre-check security station; no need to remove shoes and pull out laptops sans the humiliation of a pat-down. As the expert traveler next to me said, "This is almost like the old days." Cities with aging, cluttered and poorly designed airports with brutal security protocols beware: your destination is only as good as your aviation architecture! Dean Sakamoto photos

See AECOM site at

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Urban Observation: Funny (or Sad?) House Addition

A peculiar house addition under construction on University Avenue in Honolulu, located (ironically) across the street from the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Architecture. While the green and yellow wall sheathing  is visually striking for now (it should eventually be clad with another architectural finish like shingles or faux plaster), the addition's haphazard building proportions, placement/size of windows juxaposed against the old house is too weird to be an accident. While this could be a new architectural genre we have yet to learn about, questions that beg to be answered include:
1) Has any thought been given to the quality of day light and ventilation inside?
2) Is it structurally sound and did its designer do the necessary due-diligence and obtain a building permit?
3) How does this conform to zoning for single-family use and the required building height envelope?
4) What will this addition be clad with? Is that a dog house up top?
Ultimately, this observation raises the issue of architecture as a reflection of its place and time... of yesterday, today, future or, none of the above.
Dean Sakamoto photo

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fate of IBM Building in the News

The fate of a Honolulu icon, the IBM Building, designed by Vladimir Ossipoff, was discussed in the local media with opposing spins. Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter, Andrew Gomes reported on February 1, 2013 that the Howard Hughes Corporation, IBM's owner, and developer of the ambitious redevelopment plan of Ward Villages, will "...get a $20 million makeover, though the name and general look of the 51-year-old building in Kakaako will remain the same." On the other hand, Curt Sanburn's story in the Honolulu Weekly (Feb. 20, 2013) is more skeptical. Sanburn's story reveals   concerns about the renovation design as expressed by a group of local architects. Good start by Hughes to save IBM, but why not truly PRESERVE it - with 21st century building envelope and systems upgrades - as a historical landmark, collect the deserved tax incentives, and kudos from citizens  who appreciate its distinct architectural form as crafted by its original architect? Like it or not, one can argue that this building is an urban memento to Hawaii's heady Camelot days; similar to what the Aloha Tower is to the steamship era of the 1920s-30s. DSA thanks Andrew and Curt for their reporting on this critical issue. Mariko Reed photo above.

See Gomes' Star-Advertiser story and images of the planned renovations at:

See Sanburn's Honolulu Weekly story at:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

HURRIPLAN Presented at Pratt Institute-Manhattan Campus

HURRIPLAN: Resilient Building Design for Coastal Communities is a two-day training course for planners, design professionals, state and local officials, and property owners. Developed by Dean Sakamoto with graduate assistants Nathalie Razo and Michael Hill, and a team of national experts which include, Don Watson, FAIA; Tom Smith, AIA; Dennis Hwang, J.D.; Gary Chock, P.E.; John Whalen, FAICP; Tom Schroeder, Ph.D. and Ty Dempsey, P.E. At Pratt, the instructional team of Sakamoto, Watson, Hwang, and Don Shaw, AIA, presented HURRIPLAN to a multidisciplinary audience of 30 practitioners, local officials and academics.
For more info on HURRIPLAN, see:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Post-Sandy Recovery Event at New York Center for Architecture

At a packed Tafel Auditorium, Dean Sakamoto was one of six speakers and panelists at AIA New York's Design For Risk and Recovery (DFRR) committee's Post-Sandy Recovery event on February 13, 2013. Sakamoto shared an overview of the Hurricane Sandy field report with Dennis Hwang and impressed upon the need for architects to design with resilience in mind. Other distinguished speaker included: Ron Shiffman, Thaddeus Pawlowski, Erica Kerberle, Anthony Romeo,AIA and Denisha Williams, RLA, LEED AP, event organizer and moderator. Lance Jay Brown, FAIA and Illya Azaroff, AIA are DFRR co-chairs.
For more info on the DFRR committee, see:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Prouve and Ossipoff Houses Discussed 

On January 25, 2013, Dean Sakamoto participated in the seminar, Cool House: Imagination of Home in the Tropics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Architecture Auditorium. Sakamoto's presentation titled "2 Houses" compared and contrasted the Jean Prouve designed, Maison Tropicale with Vladimir Ossipoff's Pauling House on Mount Tantalus in Honolulu. This event was organized by Professor Kazi Ashraf of UHM. Other speakers included Martin Despang, Cathi Ho, David Rockwood and Luis Longhi.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mixed-Use Zoning Fix Needed in New Haven

Dean Sakamoto testified in favor of the BD-1 zoning amendment to New Haven's Zoning Ordinance at its Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on January 16, 2013. This proposed amendment is a correction to New Haven's ordinance in which residential mixed-use development in urban areas can comply with commercial use density and building bulk standards. To the City's credit, this action sparked a debate among concerned citizens, both for and against this zoning correction that was originally established in 1988. Sakamoto believes that if the zone correction is made, this rule would increase the Elm City's growing "creative culture" in its urban core. For more details see Allan Appel's story in the New Haven Independent: