Honolulu: A Very Brady Brutalism

By: Smith Schwartz |


Honolulu is a crazy city on a tiny island with that same weird pluralist feeling that many port cities have. It’s a little bit Marseilles, a little bit Tokyo and a little bit LA. It’s big, bustling but not quite settled into a singular identity.


The one thing that is repetitious about this town are the crayon-colored “Corbusiers” all over the place. It’s obvious when the resort boom of Honolulu happend. You can almost smell the Brylcreem in Don Draper’s hair as he pulls up to his hotel in a convertible Caddy.


During those first couple weeks of our trip here, we both became obsessed with Sarah Vowell’s book, Unfamiliar Fishes. It’s a great read and a thorough look at Hawaii’s tumultuous journey from an indigenous island monarchy to British discovery to missionary conversion to becoming the 50th US state. In the book, she described the architecture in Honolulu as, “A Very Brady Brutalism” and she couldn’t have been more accurate.


Just try to look at these buildings without picturing Mike Brady sitting at his drafting table telling Bobby and Cindy to keep it down. He’s busy cooking up The Next Big Thing.