The modern style gained popularity in Hawaii during the late 1930s, demonstrated by the 1938 opening of the Cooper Apartments. The building enjoyed white masonry walls, a low pitched hipped roof with overhanging eaves, large sliding windows with horizontal panes, and simple art deco-Asian decorative elements.
However, as with many buildings constructed in Hawaii, the Cooper Apartments include features that suit the Hawaiian climate and lifestyle such as the large window openings, open-air living spaces, sliding patio doors, an expansive courtyard, and the lanais (walkways) on the first two stories. Meanwhile, the moon gate and fretwork on the apartment doors speak to Hawaii’s multi-cultural society.
In the 1930s, Honolulu abounded in a cultural hodgepodge stemming from the influx of sailors, immigrants, and planters, as well as Hawaiian natives. A newspaper advertisement in 1937 for the apartments included the banner, Waikiki Apartments for Girls. In the description, the first line remarks how the complex will consist of nine apartments, each amply large enough for two girls. Unfortunately, no documentation can be found at the time of this writing to determine the reason for this marketing, but it appears that these were homes for many women leading up to World War II and may have also housed wartime laborers and other professional working women.
Today, the structure provides an example of both the architectural simplicity of the 1930s and Hawaiian designs that maximized outdoor spaces and open breezes.