Snyder Hall – Part 2

Line drawing of the Health Research Institute Building from 1961.Note: Part 1 focused on Laurence Hasbrouck Snyder (1901-1986), sixth president of the University of Hawai‘i (from 1958 to 1963) and also an internationally known geneticist.  Designed by architects Takashi Anbe (1925-1985) and George K. C. Lee (1921-1995) and completed in 1962, the building that was eventually named after Snyder was built of reinforced concrete at a cost of $1.5 million. It is considered an excellent example of Tropical Modern architecture[1].

A group of people with picks and shovels at the July 1961 groundbreaking ceremony for the Health Research Institute Building

Snyder and others at the July 1961 groundbreaking for the Health Research Institute Building (later Snyder Hall). Masao Miyamoto photograph collection, University Archives.

Originally known as the Health Research Institute Building, the five-story, 60,000-square foot Snyder Hall is an excellent example of Tropical Modern architecture on campus; its operable metal louvers span the exterior, interrupted by vertical concrete columns and simple metal rails. The entrance features an elegant cascading staircase and landing—protected by a generous concrete and sheet metal canopy[2].

Over half of the University’s buildings were constructed during the period from 1960-1982. Between the years of 1959 to 1962, the old McCarthy Road—named after the Territorial Governor Charles McCarthy—was transformed into a pedestrian mall lined with monkeypod trees that helped to soften the harsh lines of structures along the mall. Four buildings—Webster, Spaulding, Edmondson, and Snyder Halls—formed what was designated as the “Memorial Quadrangle” in honor of those who had given their lives in the various wars of the 20th century[3]

Two men standing in front of the new commemorative plaque at the Snyder Hall renaming dedication ceremony in March 1968. The man on the right (with lei) is Laurence Snyder.

Laurence H. Snyder (right) at the dedication ceremony for the renamed Snyder Hall, March 1968. Masao Miyamoto photograph collection, University Archives.

In 1963 the Zoology Department moved from Gartley to Snyder Hall, which also housed the Microbiology Department and the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, parts of the John A. Burns School of Medicine[4].  It would be several years later before the laboratory rats were moved to the fifth floor of Snyder Hall, which housed Lab Animal Services[5].  Many recall the plaintive cries of other laboratory animals emitting from the fifth floor, including monkeys and roosters during the second half of the 20th century.

In 2015 Dr. Marguerite Butler, Associate Professor of Biology at UHM, supported the strategic thinking of the System-Level Integrated Academic & Facilities plan resolution but expressed concern over the lack of consultation with faculty regarding Snyder Hall and the unmet needs of the biology department to the Board of Regents[6].

The same year The Worst of Mānoa: Snyder and Kuykendall Hall was produced, revealing the degradation of the building.

The following year a steam leak filled the hallways of the second floor, renewing the call for renovation.  Two of the pharmaceutical cold rooms were broken at the time and despite passing the annual inspection on March 9, 1995, students and staff reported chemical fume hoods were not ventilating properly, compounded by falling ceiling tiles[7].

Inadequate facilities in Snyder Hall was cited as one of the reasons against the establishment of U.S. Navyʻs University Affiliated Research Center in 2006. Microbiology professors estimated that roughly 30% of all research conducted needed to be redone because of contamination from the building.

Line drawing of the Health Research Institute Building from 1961.

Line drawing of the Health Research Institute Building (later Snyder Hall), 1961. Masao Miyamoto photograph collection, University Archives.


[1] MXD_MOD: Modern Architecture in a multicultural context. DOCOMOMO US National Symposium 2019 Hawaii

[2] Tropical Modernism – UH SOA Higo and Irene Shen Gallery, 2019

[3] Science & Technology Department of Hamilton Library: History and Recollections, Wermager et al., 2017

[4] Hawaii Medical Journal July 1994 v 53 n7

[5] History of the Department of Psychology at the Univerity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Haynes and Weaver 2007

[6] September 17, 2015 Board of Regents minutes

[7] “Snyder Hall steam leak raises concerns” Ka Leo o Hawaiʻi May 4, 2015.

One thought on “Snyder Hall – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Snyder Hall – Part 1 | Archives & Manuscripts Department

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s