Hobron Lai Residence Historic Renovation

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Photographer: David Franzen

Project Team

Architect/Designer: Louis K. Fung, AIA
Interior Designer: Tonia Moy, AIA

The Hobron Lai Residence, a Colonial Revival style residence built in 1916, was a major renovation and addition project in the Pacific Heights area of Hawaii. It was one of the first residences in Pacific Heights and has been renovated several times over the years with alterations that were not sympathetic to the original Colonial Revival Style.

The owners contemplated tearing down and starting anew (which would have been approximately the same cost), but they were very attached to this house as one had come to live here every winter vacation since he was a young child. Therefore, they decided to keep and rehabilitate the house.

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The house was neglected for many years and severely needed a face lift as well as structural reinforcement. Fung Associates Inc. was hired to research on the historic significance of the property and repair and renovate the house to meet the owner’s needs while complying with historic guidelines. Fung Associates Inc. was also retained to do renovation work on the guest house, built in the 1970s, which was not consistent with the design of the Colonial Revival style main house.

A garage with exercise room was added above site to help define the pool deck area and allowed for the inclusion of a residential elevator. All windows were restored on the main house and any new or replacement windows either matched the existing windows or were in the new part of the house.

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Due to rotting wood the Diamond Head/Makai corner of the house was sinking. Renovation work was done to rehabilitate it to its original form. There was no change in any of the floor plans except for the kitchen which was re-arranged from its 1950-1980s renovations and added to in the rear of the house with the utility room.

Additional creative solutions include the use of an old oven chase for the new AC ducts and the use of a treble clef speaker for the doorbell. The final design ensured all the 1970s kitchens and bathrooms were renovated while keeping with the historic character of the existing main house. As some of the 1950s additions had character defining features, such as the windows seen in the dining room, the breakfast nook, and the treble clef vent, these features were kept as they contributed in their own right yet did not take away from the overall Colonial Revival character.

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