Century 21 Dome in San Jose Threatened by New Development


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Docomomo US/Noca is currently advocating for the preservation of a mid-century movie theater in San Jose, California. The Century 21 Theater, located at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, was constructed in 1963 and opened in 1964. The theater was designed by Bay Area architect Vincent G. Raney with a futuristic dome shape. The Century 21 Theatre in San Jose was one of the first venues built specifically for Cinerama and was the first Century dome theater to be constructed in what would become a chain, ultimately expanding to Southern California, Salt Lake City, and Seattle. Many dome theaters in the chain have already been demolished.
Differing from the Century domes that would follow, the Century 21 in San Jose was constructed almost entirely of concrete and has a larger lobby area. Although the theater was originally designed for presenting films using the 3-strip Cinerama process, it is capable of presenting films in several formats. With the exception of some interior renovations, the theater appears much as it did in 1964 and is one of the oldest of the Cinerama era still standing in the United States.
A similar mid-century dome theater in nearby Pleasant Hill, California, was demolished on May 8 to make way for a big-box sporting goods store. The Century 21 site is currently being marketed as available for development, and Docomomo US/Noca is working to build support for the building before demolition is proposed. Follow Docomomo US/Noca on Facebook to receive updates about the building.