Waikiki International Marketplace

Waikiki International Marketplace

Is that bikini-clad woman in the lower right carrying a set of construction drawings?


Final proposals were submitted this week for the Foundation Design-Assist contract on the International Marketplace Redevelopment project. Foundation design is particularly challenging at this site because:

  1. The parking garage planned for the back of the lot has column loads over 3,000 kips.
  2. An ancient stream appears to have eroded away the intermediate reef under some, but not all, of the new building, leading to a few foundations needing to be more than 185 feet long, and
  3. The iconic and historical banyan trees in the middle of the Marketplace need to be protected completely during construction.

It’s this last item that draws my attention on a sunny late-summer afternoon, when the temperature in my naturally ventilated office here at Atlas World Headquarters is topping 85 degrees F and my capacity for productive work has become asymptotic with zero. The trees are beautiful and iconic, but it is also terrifically difficult to install 150-foot deep piles from beneath the 20-foot high canopy. This tension between history and progress is one of the most interesting aspects of this very interesting project.

The International Marketplace is the creation of tiki-bar inventor Donn the Beachcomber, who built the original Dagger Bar at this spot in 1956 , followed by other tiki-themed restaurants as popularity skyrocketed. Duke Kahanamoku’s was here and Trader Vic’s too, a trifecta of early Waikiki tiki culture.  Donn Beach is also the esteemed inventor of  the Mai Tai, the Zombie, the Dr. Funk, and 81 more (essentially all rum-based) tropical tiki bar drinks, assuring his place in the mixology hall of fame.

The huge, graceful banyan tree that’s causing such logistical trouble for the IMP foundation contractor supported, at one time, Donn’s tree house.  Atlas staff working on the IMP redevelopment project have enjoyed tropical beverages in that tree after Donn sold it to Duke’s, who remodeled it into Dukes Hideaway. The historical credentials of this exceptional tree are not at all in doubt, and the the IMP redevelopment team is obviously committed to preserving the location of so much great Waikiki history. The exact solution is not yet decided, but have no fear that Donn’s tree house, later Duke’s Hideaway, is a central part of the IMP redevelopment project.


Proper Mai Tai presentation, according to the inventor.

So as we depart work for a sunny, hot, 3-day weekend celebrating the end of summer, let’s all remember Donn the Beachcomber, the Mai Tai that he invented for us, and the great history of tiki lounge culture at our project site in Waikiki and all throughout the US.  Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend, everyone. And for those of you with a tropical thirst, I leave you with this helpful link: http://www.hawaiibeachcomber.com/id13.html