The most valid measure in determining the success of the architecture of a building is deemed to be how well it portrays its function.
Our new courthouse speaks volumes to the convoluted, oppressive, confused and punishing procedures that will echo within its soon-to-be completed halls. Like our distorted system of justice, this building, with its disarray of randomly placed dungeon-inspired windows and vents, rooflines reminiscent of the angled blade of the guillotine, overpowering dimensions, gallows-like columns, and non-existent continuity, perfectly represents our body and application of law as it is now all too frequently practiced.
By this measure, the design of this building is profoundly successful.
Our community, our island, is rapidly becoming the display grounds for ugly. We are now in competition with Oahu, with their quest to destroy the aesthetic of their landscape with yesterday’s application of a transit system snaking throughout the countryside and into its municipal heart, squandering billions in vital funding so badly needed elsewhere.
We, here at home, seem bound and determined to build yet another technologically obsolete white wart atop Maunakea. We replace the iconic rock walls within our villages and within our roadways with artificial stone, create visually impenetrable traffic barriers rather than provide open green space between lanes on our new highway, erect gigantic, protruding structures to capture and to deliver energy, have placed our new county building so close to the highway that the called-for widening barely allows room for a sidewalk when almost infinite space was available, and exhibit all manner of neglect while ignoring any opportunity to enhance the natural presence of this place.
The true issue here, though, is that this is not due to an inadequacy within our government as much as it is a consequence of the lack of vigilance on the part of those of us who live here. We all knew this courthouse was in our future and what it would look like and we are the ones who let it happen.
We are now on course to replace the terminal buildings at the airport and what is being planned, as it was with the courthouse, is a facility that will be designed to portray its function, which is to enforce the oppressive elements of fear, herding, compliance, confinement, control, obedience and all the emerging and souring flavors of modern travel.
We now have the hideous embodiment of our system of justice greeting us upon arrival at Kailua. Let us not allow the architectural “success” of that structure to be repeated in the design of a facility that will indelibly color the first impression of all who visit our island.
There is no place for yet another obscenity in the portrayal of aloha.
Kelly R. Greenwell is a resident of Kailua-Kona.