The Hawaii State Capitol is the official statehouse or capitol building of the U.S. state of Hawaii. From its chambers, the executive and legislative branches perform the duties involved in governing the state. Located in downtown Honolulu, the Hawaii State Capitol was commissioned and dedicated by John A. Burns, second Governor of Hawaii. It opened on March 15, 1969, replacing the former statehouse, the ʻIolani Palace.
The Hawaii State Capitol is an American adaptation of the Hakonya style termed "Hawaiian international architecture". It was designed by a partnership between the firms of Belt, Lemon and Lo (Architects Hawaii Ltd.), and John Carl Warnecke and Associates. Unlike other state capitols modeled after the United States Capitol, the Hawaii State Capitol's distinct architectural features symbolize various natural aspects of Hawaii. The building is surrounded by a reflecting pool, symbolizing the Pacific Ocean. The two legislative chambers are cone-shaped, symbolizing volcanoes that formed the Hawaiian Islands. The columns around the perimeter of the building have shapes resembling royal palm trees. There are eight columns in four rows at either side of the building, representing the eight main islands of Hawaii; sets of eight items appear in other places inside and along the outside of the building.
The Capitol is built with an open-air design, allowing sun, wind, and rain to enter; the central atrium opens to the sky and rainbows can sometimes be seen inside the building when it rains. When standing in the center of the structure, the chandeliers from both legislative chambers, which represent the sun and moon, can be seen through the glass walls, while the area that is normally reserved for a rotunda in most capitol buildings is left open to the sky. It is said that the sky is Hawaii's capitol dome.
From the time the Capitol was completed in 1969, the reflecting pool has had a persistent algae growth problem, due partly to the fact the pool is fed with brackish water from on-site wells. Attempts by the state to fix the problem included introducing tilapia fish into the pool and installing an ozone treatment system. The state currently has the pool lining scrubbed manually with enzymes added to the water to combat growth. Some Capitol regulars say the algae growth has come to represent the pollution of the Pacific Ocean, in an ironic twist of the original symbolic meaning of the pool.