The Architecture of Charles W. Dickey: Hawaii and California

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University of Hawaii Press, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 206 pages
Any serious observer of Hawaii's architecture will be struck by the frequent recurrence of one name: Charles Dickey. This prolific and multifaceted architect enjoyed a remarkably successful career. From the intimate tropical bungalows he designed in Waikiki to the large-scale commercial projects and schools that dominated his California years, Dickey's work exhibits both eclecticism and diversity. For many years the preeminent figure in Hawaii architecture, he is often identified with the development of a uniquely "Hawaiian style". The first individual raised in Hawaii to receive a classic architectural education in the U.S., Dickey joined the Honolulu firm of Clinton B. Ripley in 1896. In the years that followed, the Ripley-Dickey partnership played an enormous role in transforming both the burgeoning business district and the residential neighborhoods of the city. Working in a wide variety of architectural styles, the young Dickey reflected both his own historicist training and the diverse demands of his corporate clients in turn-of-the-century Honolulu. He also began to explore the vernacular traditions of Hawaiian architecture, traditions that would form the basis for his later work in Hawaii and become a signature of his style. In 1905 Dickey relocated to Oakland, where, although he encountered keener competition than he had known in Honolulu, he enjoyed a successful practice for twenty years. Of particular interest are his experiments with California's Mission Style architecture and his innovative use of structural steel, which enhanced his reputation in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake. It was there, too, that he added Japanese architectural traditions to hisincreasing range of stylistic options. Upon his return to Honolulu in 1926, Dickey began to cultivate what he considered to be a uniquely Hawaiian style of architecture, a style that increasingly emphasized broad double-hipped roofs and open, spacious plans that were intimately linked to the surrounding tropical environment. In the late twenties and thirties, Dickey developed this style in a remarkable variety of building types, becoming the truly dominant architect of Honolulu. The Architecture of Charles W. Dickey provides a convenient overview of much of Hawaii's architectural history. Robert Jay begins his study with a concise historical survey of nineteenth-century Hawaiian architecture; Dickey's own career takes the story from the mid-1890s to World War II, encompassing a period of enormous change in modern architecture; the conclusion highlights the significant architectural contributions of Dickey's contemporaries and of firms operating today. This work will be of interest to historians of American architecture, as well as specialists in American and Hawaiian studies. It will also appeal to those interested in the history of Honolulu's urban development, who will find that the spirit of Dickey's work survives even today.

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