Fox Oakland Theater
Fox Oakland Theater
Award Type: Honor Award
When it first opened in 1928, the opulent Fox Oakland Theater in Oakland, Calif. was considered one of the finest movie palaces ever built. Fans thronged to the exotic domed temple, whose Moorish, Indian and Medieval architecture defied description, and marveled at its terra cotta tiles, paintings and sculptures of golden deities.
For more than three decades, the Fox held its own as a first-run movie house in a bustling downtown entertainment and shopping district. But as suburban malls and multiplexes began to lure moviegoers away from downtown Oakland, the Fox closed its doors in 1973. In the years that followed, the grand theater escaped the wrecking ball more than once, but suffered fires, leaky roofs, decay and graffiti.
After the Oakland Redevelopment Agency purchased the Fox in 1996, work began on a master plan to renovate the building to house a new 2,500-seat performing arts center and home for the Oakland School for the Arts. In December 2006, the $80 million construction project, the largest of its kind in the U.S., got underway. Lavish architectural details were restored, from the from the 115 foot tall Hindu tower dome to the exotically themed interiors, and state-of-the-art systems were installed to create a performance space second to none. Reopened in February of 2009 after being dark for 35 years, the theater consistently draws capacity crowds, and new shops, restaurants and apartment houses are springing up, adding vibrancy to a once-struggling area.
"The Fox Oakland Theater is an architectural and community treasure," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "At first glance, the theater is an eye-popping shrine to fabulously over-the-top showmanship, but look closer, and it's a textbook on how to bring a building – and a neighborhood – back to life."
Along with the City of Oakland Redevelopment Agency, co-recipients honored for the Fox Oakland Theater renovation project are: California Capital Group; Turner Construction; Architectural Dimensions; The KPA Group Structural Engineers; ELS Architecture & Urban Design; Starkweather Bondy Architecture; and Friends of the Oakland Fox.