With a perfect blend of old-school nostalgia and cutting-edge technology, Hale Keaka quickly made a name for itself as the crown jewel of theater experiences in the state.
The revamped theater, which was designed with an eye to historic architectural details, has turned quite a few heads since opening its doors last December, including leaders in the design industry.
Last month, Hale Keaka and project designers Mason Architects were honored with a merit award in the commercial and industrial design category at the 57th annual AIA Honolulu awards. It is the first time a Lanai building has made the cut for this prestigious showcase of the industry’s best.
Majestic 1930s exterior conceals 21st-century technology
Mason Architects, known for its experience with restoration architecture, took care to add the features that had been removed or replaced over the years — clipped gable roofs, a grand arched entry, roof dormers, exposed windows and a sloped entryway. The result is an exterior that harkens back to the old days, when the theater provided live plays and musical performances for the community.
There is a natural stone backlit niche feature inside to beckon visitors into the lobby. Teak wood trim and paneling reference a new architectural trend on Lanai, giving the design a distinct sense of place.
“Hale Keaka, has been described to me as a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said architect and project manager Charlie Palumbo, who worked closely with Mason Architects and other consultants on the design elements of the new theater. “Outside, you’ll find architecture reminiscent of the old 1930s design, but the interior is a different story.”
Palumbo is referring to the modern stone tile bathrooms with contemporary fixtures, LED lighting, state-of-the-art digital projection, a 20,000-watt sound system, acoustics, and — much to the delight of moviegoers — reclining leather seats.
Every detail was accounted for to provide viewers with a luxury experience. “We went through extra effort to conceal the sound equipment to give the theaters the feeling of sitting in a comfortable auditorium, using fabric-stretched panels to hide speakers without compromising acoustics,” explained Palumbo.
Lanai Builders brought the vision to life in roughly four months — working through two hurricane scares and countless challenges to complete the project before Christmas. The team of contractors, led by William Patterson, Monty Gamble and Conrad Pescado, made each design element, new and nostalgic, shine with expert craftsmanship.
Joining the ranks of architectural landmarks
Palumbo is no stranger to the AIA Honolulu design award, which over the years has honored many of Hawaii’s most celebrated landmarks. He has been recognized twice before, as a University of Hawaii architecture student, and again as a member of the design team in charge of renovating the Sheraton Waikiki and Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
But, he considers it a special privilege to bring the award home to Lanai.
“The caliber of entries is very high,” said Palumbo, who attended the ceremony in Honolulu along with Kris Powers, project manager from Mason Architects. “It’s an honor to have been a part of this project, which has a long history of serving our community.”