Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mystery Tikis - Hana Kiki Apartments, Santa Ana, CA?

Back in January 2008, my friend and fellow tikiphile Chris Jepsen posted this mystery tiki photo to his his excellent blog on the history of Orange County, California.

Mystery Tiki Photo
photo credit: O.C. History Roundup, Jan. 22, 2008

Mystery Tiki Photo
photo credit: O.C. History Roundup, Jan. 22, 2008

Chris commented "The photo comes from the O.C. Archives and was shot by an employee of the O.C. Planning Dept. in Nov. 1961. Unfortunately, I don't know the location of this outstanding tiki-themed apartment complex. There were many one-story faux-Polynesian complexes in Southern California in those days, which makes it tricky to pinpoint. My first thought was The Islander Apartments, at the northern edge of Santa Ana -- but it's really not a perfect match. The odds are good that it's in O.C., but even that's not 100% certain....Interestingly, the tikis in the photo above each serve a purpose: The first holds a torch, which undoubtedly lit up with a gas-fed flame at night; and the second seems to hold a map or directory of the complex....Please post a comment if you recognize the tikis or the buildings, or if you have any other clues to share."

I was looking at these mystery photos again over the weekend and think I have discovered their location. At first glance, I thought I recognized the apartment complex, but needed to go back through my picture archive to see if I could verify the apartment complex.

I think the mystery photos come from the Hana Kiki Garden Apartments in Santa Ana, located just one block east of the Islander Apartments (Chris's first guess). Here are my photos from the Hana Kiki that I took back in 2004 during one of my tiki apartment hunting field trips. I had a crappy digital camera back then, so the photos aren't that good.

The pool lanai and A-frame roof so common to Southern California tiki apartments. The two story support column was carved with designs, but can't make it out in this photo.

Pool A-frame and carved column.

This is the photograph I used to help identify the Mystery Tiki Photo. There are a few things that I notice right away.

1. The shape of the exposed header beams is the same
2. The style and spacing of the downward extended roof beams are the same
3. The style and angle of the roof is the same
4. Both photos are from single story garden apartments with white concrete block walls.

The last piece of evidence is the comment Chris posted about the note on the back of the original photo. The photo was taken by the Orange County Planning Department in November 1961. The Hana Kiki Garden Apartments were constructed in 1960 and began renting apartments (adults only) in November 1960. Would the County Building Department have sent a field inspector back to a project one year later to verify compliance to building code for final acceptance? I don't know. However, the date of the opening of the Hana Kiki and the date of the photograph have too much in common to be a mere coincidence.

So, looking at all of this evidence, I have about 90% confidence in the location of this Mystery Tiki photo. However, for any of you Southern California tiki explorers, here is a challenge. If you stop by the Hana Kiki, the tikis themselves are long gone, but if you can verify the original mystery photo and get a better picture of the carved column at the pool, I would love to hear about it and see some pictures.

Good Hunting!

Hana Kiki Garden Apartments: 1147 West Memory Lane, Santa Ana , California

Update: The location was correct, read the rest of the story here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Polynesian Terrace Bird Cafe - Disneyland, California

When Disneyland first opened in 1955, the Adventureland portion of the park included the Adventureland Pavilion restaurant. You can see photos of the original pavilion in this earlier post.

In in 1963, with the introduction of audio animatronics developed at WED Enterprises, the Adventureland Pavilion was updated. Bill Martin (Disney Legend) who started his career with Disney in 1953 as an Art Director for Fantasyland, eventually became the Art Director for all of Disneyland. Bill's role as art director for this project involved taking the construction drawings and bringing them to life in Disneyland.

Note the name of the project at the time "Polynesian Terrace Bird Cafe & Tiki Garden"

It wasn't long before the concept of the Bird Cafe was abandoned and the project was transformed into "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room".

Architectural drawing to transform the Adventureland Pavilion into the Tiki Room and adjacent Tahitian Terrace Restaurant. North Elevation as seen from the Tiki Garden.

West Elevation. Note the original exit stairs were going to lead off to the south directly into the adjacent restaurant. The plan was revised and the stairs now exit directly off the center of the patio in the middle of the drawing.

In the West Elevation drawing you can clearly see the basement structure and the stairs that lead down from the Tiki Garden. You can also make out the attic where the Bird Mobile hangs.

A conceptual rendering for new signage for the attraction with the introduction of Dole as the new sponsor.

The Tiki Room signage and Uti, the Polynesian Godess of Fishing

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hawaiian Brutalism

As a reader of this blog and fan of all things tiki, I expect most of you also enjoy other Mid Century architectural styles. Today we look at Brutalism, which surprisingly, can be found in the world of Polynesian Pop culture.

The term Brutalism was coined in 1956 from the French phrase beton brut, which means 'raw concrete'. The Brutalist sytle is about concrete surfaces and repetitve angular shapes, a complete opposite of what we expect in Tiki Architecture with organic materials like thatch, bamboo, tapa cloth and lava rock.

Here are a few classic examples of Modern Brutalism architecture for reference.

The Geisel Library, University of California San Diego (1969)

Habitat '67, Montreal Expo (Canada, 1967)

Druzhba Holiday Center Hall, Yalta, Ukraine (1984). How is it that this beautiful structure located on the north shore of the Black Sea has never been featured in a James Bond movie as the villians H.Q.???

Interestingly, Brutalism had an enormus impact in Hawaii and became a dominant theme in the late 1960s, particularily for the new larger resorts on the islands of Maui and the Big Island that were just starting development.

Photo credit: Ian Lind

The Keauhou Kona Resort District on the Big Island was a barren volcanic shore in the early 1960s, but all of that was about to change over the next decade as new resorts were built in the Brutalist style, including:

The Kona Hilton (1968, currently the Royal Kona Resort):

The Kona Hilton was designed by Pete Wimberley and his firm in the late 1960s. From previous posts here on Tiki Architecture, we know that Pete was the primary force for developing the tiki style found in mid century Hawaii.

Photo Credit: Ian Lind

Photo Credit: Ian Lind

These decorative columns were cast-in-place with colored concrete and sport a Polynesian design. They are the center piece of the resort's main restaurant and the dinning room was constructed around them.

Photo Credit: Ian Lind

In the forground of this photo, you can see the concrete forms that were used to cast the decorative columns.

The columns can still be found in the Hotel's restaurant today, which is currently occupied by Don the Beachcomber.

The Kona Surf Resort (1971):

The Kona Surf Resort was designed by the architectural firm of Lemmon, Freeth, Haines, Jones & Farrell. Earlier in his carrer, Cy Lemmon worked with C.W. Dickey (father of the Hawaiian style roof) in Honolulu after WWII. Then in 1951 he left and started his own firm, eventually becoming one of the largest architectural firms in Hawaii.

This image was used in full page magazine ads in 1972 stating "The Kona Surf: Hawaii's Most Beautiful Resort"

Second floor open air atrium.

The walls of the resort's lobby included a sculpted concrete mural by artist Tom Van Sant, entitled 'Hawaiian Visions'

7 wall 'Hawaiian Visions' concrete sculpture (1971, Kona Surf)

Tom Van Sant is well known for his commercial concrete sculptures, including this mural in California.

'Dolphin Wall' (2001, Newport Beach, California)

In 2000 the Kona Surf resort closed their doors for business. However, new owners purchased the building and reopened in 2005 as the Sheraton Keauhou Bay.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tiki News - Issue #6

I thought I'd start the new year with posting the full issue of Tiki News #6 (published January, 1996).

This was one of my favorite early issues because of the story about the Tiki/Polynesian dingbats around Los Angeles. Until I read this article, I didn't know those type of apartment complexes had their own architectural classification (e.g., dingbat).

You can click and then zoom on each page for easier reading.

Enjoy the zine!

I love Tiki Dingbat Apartments!

Did you notice the ad for Beachbum Berry's original Grog Log? This version was printed on 8 1/2" x 11" paper and stapeled together. They are very rare today.