Thousands of local Big Island residents and visitors drive by the unique sale structure at the intersection of Waikoloa Drive and Mamalahoa Highway (a.k.a. the upper road) every day. Like me, most have probably asked, “Interesting structure … but what is it?”
Interesting structure – but what is it?
What is it?
The General Manager of the Waikoloa Village Association, Roger Wehrsig, shared the history as he knows it in September’s “Waikoloa Breeze” newsletter. Roger reports:
“The landmark was built around 1970 in the shape of an old-fashioned canoe sail, representing the ocean and sky.”
It was further reported that locally known architect Vladimir Ossipoff (1907 – 1998) was the designer of the structure. Ossipoff is remembered for his Frank Lloyd Wright-esque design style of open floor plans that bring in natural light, materials, and ventilation. Notably, Ossipoff was awarded the very first medal of honor of the AIA Hawaii Chapter and whose name is associated with several prominent buildings in North Hawaii, including Davies Memorial Chapel at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.
The Waikoloa sail structure was designed by locally known architect Vladimir Ossipoff
In his newsletter, Roger speaks of a recent meeting with Curt Sanburn whose father, Will Sanburn, played a significant role in the early development of the Waikoloa area. Curt’s perspective on the Waikoloa Sail Structure is:
“Its spectacularly modern yet sensitive adaptation of native Hawaiian forms – the heiau, the lele, the wa’a – is a tribute to Ossipoff’s sensitivity to and understanding of the Hawaiian way of being, of aloha aina.”
Understanding a little about the history of something can make it come alive. We are so fortunate to live in this special place – and don’t have to look far to find meaning and a sense of place right under our noses.
Enjoy 360 degree views of the island from the Waikoloa sail structure
The next time you’re driving past the Waikoloa sail structure, turn onto the small drive and park your car just makai of the structure. There are steps up to and a platform that supports the structure – enjoy 360 degree views of the island and take a moment to give thanks for those native Hawaiian values that the structure represents: places of worship/reflection/mediation (heiau), respect for the land (‘aina), and voyaging (wa’a or canoe).