1221 Punchbowl St, Honolulu, HI
Renowned Hawai‘i architect Vladimir Ossipoff designed this building in 1959 as a permanent home for the Hawai‘i Medical Library, which had been forced to move seven times since its founding in 1913. Today the library’s historic collections serve as invaluable resources for medical students.
What threatens it?
Squeezed onto a dense urban campus, The Queen’s Medical Center has long been short on parking, with many employees waiting years for a space. The hospital desperately needs a new multilevel parking structure, and with no free space left on campus, the Medical Library is seen as the most expendable building. Mark Yamakawa, the chief operating officer of Queen’s Health Systems, says the hospital is reluctant to tear down the library, but says, “Queen’s infrastructure is already at capacity, particularly with regard to parking. We need to look to the future.”
What can be done?
Yamakawa says that Queen’s first choice of sites for its parking structure is right next door—a surface parking lot belonging to the Board of Water Supply. Not only is the location conveniently close to the rest of the Queen’s campus, it would obviate the need to tear down the Medical Library. The Board of Water Supply, however, remains noncommittal about its plans for the asphalt lot. “We’re evaluating the possibility of redeveloping this piece of property,” says spokesperson Su Shin. “Once we decide what we want to do, we would lay out all the criteria and put it out for public bidding, as required by law.” Yamakawa worries that the public auction would price the lot beyond Queen’s budget. “As a healthcare provider, our larger interest is in the good of the community,” he says. Translation: the Medical Library could be on the chopping block.
UPDATE (2012) – SAVED
This Vladimir Ossipoff-designed building made the 2007 list, but, rather than being torn down, it has been reborn. The Queen’s Health Systems renovated the 1961 structure to turn it into office space, moving the library materials elsewhere. The project started in November 2012, says Makana McClellan, in QHS corporate communications, and was primarily an interior renovation, with efforts to maintain the exterior’s appearance. The building reopened in October 2011, says McClellan. “I’m sitting in it right now!”.