flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

Walgreens’ flagship in Hawaii harkens back to the island’s fishing culture

Retail Centers

Walgreens’ flagship in Hawaii harkens back to the island’s fishing culture

A house where canoes were made served as the model for this drug superstore’s design. 

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | August 10, 2015
Walgreens’ flagship in Hawaii harkens back to the island’s fishing culture

The flagship store was built at the corner of one of Honolulu’s busiest intersections and near one of the nation’s top-grossing shopping centers. All photos courtesy Architects Hawaii Ltd. 

The drugstore chain Walgreens isn’t exactly known for innovative store design. But the Illinois-based retailer may not be getting its just due for its willingness to alter its standard format to respect history.

For example, its flagship store in Chicago is an adaptive reuse of the Noel State Bank Building in that city’s Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood. The two-year restoration retained much of the bank’s neoclassical style, including the exterior’s ornamental terra cotta, large windows divided by rising pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals, and a prominent cornice that wraps around the corner of the building.

The restoration also features abundant nonsymmetrical hexagons that frame griffins and other ornate designs. And at the center of the building is a large stained-glass window with a six-point star design.

When Walgreens was planning its 15th flagship, located in Honolulu, the company envisioned a store that would be sensitive to the host culture and conveyed a sense of place.

The flagship would be built at the corner of one of Honolulu’s busiest intersections and near one of the nation’s top-grossing shopping centers. This area was once wetlands where fishermen and canoe builders toiled. So Architects Hawaii Ltd., the project’s lead design firm, suggested “as a starting point,” that the Walgreens flagship resemble a canoe “hale,” or house where the ships were built, says Lester Ng, the firm’s lead architect. That design would also exhibit the concept of “akupua’a,” meaning sustainability.



The ground floor of this two-story, 35,576-sf building reflects the colors and wave patterns of the ocean. The ceiling pattern depicts a modern interpretation of fishing nets.

Ng says his firm worked with the project’s mechanical and plumbing engineer, Inatsuka Engineering, to design a building with metal walls and sharp angles that form long sides, which work with sun shading that covers 60% of the high-performing glass curtain wall area in the front and sides of the store.

The neighborhood was enthused about getting a high profile retail tenant on an underused and poorly lighted corner. “The only negative comments we heard was that the local KFC would have to be closed,” says Ng.

Walgreens operates 18 stores in Hawaii, and this flagship, known as Walgrees Ke’eaumoku, replaces an 11,000-sf store that had 20 employees and eight parking spaces. The new store, which was completed in March and is open 24 hours a day, has 120 employees and parking for 200 vehicles.

This flagship is not your grandfather’s drugstore. One department sells beer, wine, and spirits. Its Upmarket Café has a juice bar, and offers sushi, poke, and sashimi, as well as wraps, sandwiches, baked goods, and frozen yogurt. The second floor is a pharmacy with an express pickup kiosk.

The building team on this project included DCK Pacific Construction (general contractor), Moss Engineering (electrical engineer), Allison-Ide Structure Engineers (structural engineer), Hida Okamoto (civil engineer), and Monaghan Landscape Architect.


Related Stories

Urban Planning | May 28, 2024

‘Flowing’ design emphasizes interaction at Bellevue, Wash., development

The three-tower 1,030,000-sf office and retail development designed by Graphite Design Group in collaboration with Compton Design Office for Vulcan Real Estate is attracting some of the world’s largest names in tech and hospitality. 

Mixed-Use | May 22, 2024

Multifamily properties above ground-floor grocers continue to see positive rental premiums

Optimizing land usage is becoming an even bigger priority for developers. In some city centers, many large grocery stores sprawl across valuable land.

Retail Centers | May 3, 2024

Outside Las Vegas, two unused office buildings will be turned into an open-air retail development

In Henderson, Nev., a city roughly 15 miles southeast of Las Vegas, 100,000 sf of unused office space will be turned into an open-air retail development called The Cliff. The $30 million adaptive reuse development will convert the site’s two office buildings into a destination for retail stores, chef-driven restaurants, and community entertainment.

Mixed-Use | Apr 23, 2024

A sports entertainment district is approved for downtown Orlando

This $500 million mixed-use development will take up nearly nine blocks.

Mixed-Use | Apr 9, 2024

A surging master-planned community in Utah gets its own entertainment district

Since its construction began two decades ago, Daybreak, the 4,100-acre master-planned community in South Jordan, Utah, has been a catalyst and model for regional growth. The latest addition is a 200-acre mixed-use entertainment district that will serve as a walkable and bikeable neighborhood within the community, anchored by a minor-league baseball park and a cinema/entertainment complex.

Retail Centers | Apr 4, 2024

Retail design trends: Consumers are looking for wellness in where they shop

Consumers are making lifestyle choices with wellness in mind, which ignites in them a feeling of purpose and a sense of motivation. That’s the conclusion that the architecture and design firm MG2 draws from a survey of 1,182 U.S. adult consumers the firm conducted last December about retail design and what consumers want in healthier shopping experiences.

Mixed-Use | Apr 4, 2024

Sustainable mixed-use districts: Crafting urban communities

As a part of the revitalization of a Seattle neighborhood, Graphite Design Group designed a sustainable mixed-use community that exemplifies resource conversation, transportation synergies, and long-term flexibility.

Construction Costs | Mar 15, 2024

Retail center construction costs for 2024

Data from Gordian shows the most recent costs per square foot for restaurants, social clubs, one-story department stores, retail stores and movie theaters in select cities.

Shopping Centers | Mar 7, 2024

How shopping centers can foster strong community connections

In today's retail landscape, shopping centers are evolving beyond mere shopping destinations to become vibrant hubs of community life. Here are three strategies from Nadel Architecture + Planning for creating strong local connections. 

Shopping Centers | Feb 6, 2024

The future of grocery store design: It may be time for the checkout aisle to check out

For grocers, the checkout aisle is one of the greatest sources of customer complaints and shrink, which directly affects their bottom line.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021