The objective of the Thomas Square Master Plan was to prepare an implementable plan for renovation of a historically significant urban park. The City and County of Honolulu contracted with PBR HAWAII to: 1) analyze the existing conditions and the history of Thomas Square; and 2) develop a landscape master plan that tells the story of the park’s history in relation to 1843 restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy.
To gather input and design inspiration, PBR HAWAII held community meetings; interviewed cultural practitioners and representatives of the arts community and surrounding business and institutions; and deployed an on-line public engagement tool. PBR HAWAII then developed several design iterations, and prepared and processed an Environmental Assessment and Special District Permit Application.
The concept was to communicate by imbedding cultural lessons and inspire a “yearn to learn.” The resulting design surrounds the flag with seven concentric rings, representing lei from the islands. This was to declare that the historic events at Thomas Square should be remembered not just on O‘ahu, but for their significance for all Hawai‘i. The radii of the rings are proportionate to the size of each island, but the Big Island does not have a band (there is no 8th ring) as the plaza would have been too large and costly. Instead, we placed the statue of King Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli, 50-feet from the flag pole, to represent his birthplace on the Big Island and the 50th state.
Ancient Hawaiians used solstice alignments for agriculture purposes and religious/ceremonial purposes. The statue of Kauikeaouli is aligned with the winter and summer solstices – sunrise and sunset, and his gesturing arm is positioned to accept the Hawaiian flag. The flag pole also acts as a (cultural) solar compass, where the five crossing bands in the plaza point to the four cardinal orientations, and toward Kūkaniloko in Wahiawā, the traditional birthing place of Hawaiian ali‘i.