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Grant number like: FEL-262343-19

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Laura Margaret McGuire
University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, HI 96822-2247)

Research Programs

[Grant products]

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2019 – 12/31/2019

A Biography of Alfred Preis (1911-1993): Immigrant, Architect, and Designer of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

Research and writing leading to publication of a critical biography of architect Alfred Preiss (1911-1993), an Austrian émigré who settled in Hawaii, and his impact on American architectural design.

This project will be the first study of Alfred Preis, an immigrant Austrian architect who fled Hitler for Hawaii in 1939. It will consist of a critical biography and a catalog of works. By examining the roles that Preis' immigrant status and his Vienna experience played in his professional success and in his vision for regional Hawaiian modernism, it will enrich our understanding of Hawaiian design from 1939-1965. Although Preis drew on spatial, formal, and ornamental idioms derived from Viennese modernism, I will show how he adapted them to the tropical climate and to Hawaiian multiculturalism. His status as a new immigrant may have played a role in his ability to gain quick acceptance in the close-knit and ethnically diverse architectural community of Honolulu. Preis was able to leverage his European background in the remote archipelago, which was consolidating its own polyglot architectural identity at midcentury as it transitioned politically from a U.S. territory into a state.