Wednesday, July 30, 2008

San Jose Architecture

Since I live in the San Jose area, I wanted to showcase some of the fabulous architecture that we have in our city. We have some beautiful architecture, some historic, some not. We have our share of famous architects who have designed or contributed to the designs of our buildings and we proudly show them off.

Enjoy my little tour!

The Hayes Mansion

200 Edenvale Avenue, San Jose, CA

Hayes Mansion

The Hayes Mansion was built in 1905 to replace the original Queen Anne style family home, destroyed by fire in 1899. The 62-room mansion, designed by architect George Page, has been referred to as one of the finest examples of late 19th-century architecture in the Santa Clara Valley. It was intended to be a triple residence for Mary Folsom Hayes Chynoweth and the growing families of her two sons, although Mary died before the house was complete. The elegant, 41,000-square foot Mediterranean Villa is built in the form of a Maltese Cross, a long center section containing an 18-foot wide solarium connecting the south wing with the north wing.

Hayes Mansion Dining Room

Beautiful craftsmanship, imported marbles and exotic woods decorated its large and airy rooms. The walls are double brick with stucco coating. As a result of the fire that destroyed the earlier home, the design of the Hayes Mansion included many fire-safety features. Throughout the house there are fire hose cabinets that connect to water tanks on the third floor. The kitchen was located in a separate building and connected to the mansion with a glass and marble plant conservatory.

Staircase in Hayes Mansion

Stained glass skylights, chamfered glass highlights in entry doors, compound curve wooden archways, and ornately tiled fireplaces are some of the attractions throughout the Hayes Mansion. A great deal of thoughtfulness has gone into the preservation of the original design. Some of the rooms have been carefully converted into meeting areas but still retain the characteristics of the nearly century old design.

Hayes Mansion Fireplace

Notice the tilework. The detail reminds me of Charles Rennie MacIntosh.

San Jose City Hall

(description and photos taken from and

The architect was Richard Meier, designer of the Getty Center, Beverly Hills, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, among many other buildings around the world. The architectural style is most influenced by that of Le Corbusier.

I took a personal tour of the City Hall through an Interior Design class I was taking. It was interesting to hear of the controversial decision making process that all the different parties involved had to go through. I got the distinct impression that a lot of people were not happy with Richard Meier's design decisions, as they didn't necessarily make for good interior design spaces.

The $382 million dollar city hall has been very controversial, with the rotunda being compared to R2-D2 from Star Wars, but the building was designed to be environmentally friendly, making use of natural light, and providing shading with a "bris soleil" on the tower. Many architectural features were taken out of the original plan because of budget issues (grand staircase).

The complex is large, with the 18 story tall tower totaling 550,000 square feet. The mayor's office is located in the top floor of the tower, with the rotunda serving as an entrance and council chambers located in the third building.

The De Anza Hotel

233 West Santa Clara Street, San Jose

The Art Deco-era Hotel De Anza opened in 1931. For many years, this was San Jose's only luxury hotel with clients including Eleanor Roosevelt, Jack Dempsey and film stars like Susan Hayward and Paulette Goddard.

Remodeled and restored in 1990, Hotel De Anza is once again a luxury hotel featuring the elegant Hedley Club Lounge and La Pastaia -- one of the city's best Italian restaurants.

Entrance to The De Anza Hotel

Not flashy, but you can see the Art Deco details.

De Anza Hotel Lobby

The interior of the De Anza is distinguished by a main lobby where Art Deco elements are integrated into a predominantly Spanish Colonial Revival decorative scheme. The lobby reaches two stories in height and contains large wooden beams with stenciled colored floral patterns. Major factors of the interior design are the highly detailed wrought iron balconies, the huge wrought iron chandelier and double arch doorways. To one side is a fireplace with a huge canopy that reaches to the ceiling. Interior doors are all distinguished by their colored stenciled floral designs.

A grand lounge is located off the spacious main lobby with visually impressive painted beam ceilings and domed chandeliers as the crowning touches.

The beautiful, 25-foot high diving lady was painted on the building's exterior in 1951 to promote the hotel's heated pool.

The Hedley Room in The De Anza Hotel

Warm colors invite you in for an afternoon cocktail with business associates.

De Anza Hotel Terrace

An airy, open place to lunch with friends. I like the awnings that they have covering the entire area.

The De Anza is one of San Jose's few Zig Zag Moderne (Art Deco) buildings. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hotel De Anza, 233 West Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA 95113

The Sainte Claire Hotel

Opened in 1926, the six story Sainte Claire Hotel had all the big city luxuries of the time. The antique lobby furnishings came from Czechoslovakia, and the lounge and lobby were adorned with hand-painted ceilings. A Spanish courtyard with tile fountains and decorations by our local tile artisan, Albert Solon, brought light into the downstairs lounge and hallways. The Sainte Claire was designed by Charles Peter Weeks & William Day. All of the Weeks and Day buildings make generous use of terra cotta siding and ornamentation that was produced at the Gladding-McBean factory at Lincoln, near Sacramento.

The Sainte Claire Entrance

Formality reigns as doormen await your arrival.

Detailing is basically derived from the Renaissance Revival tradition, though there are several references to French and Spanish architecture.
The Hotel Sainte Claire enjoyed the status of being the premiere grand hotel in the entire South Peninsula region, and the reputation of having the most elegant accommodations between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is designated as a National Historic Landmark and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America.

The Sainte Claire Interior

Today, that standard of luxury is wonderfully preserved at the Sainte Claire. After a detailed restoration and recent renovations to all guestrooms, the hotel boasts handmade hardwood furniture, rich wall coverings, ceiling murals and the finest imported amenities. The luxury hotel's lofty lobby features elaborate gilt scrollwork and hand-carved, hand-painted ceiling panels (by Tony Heinsbergen), and is appointed with classic Italianate furnishings.

Guest Suite in the Sainte Claire

Warm colors and cozy surfaces make this space feel like home.

Il Fornaio Restaurant at The Sainte Claire Hotel
A popular dinner spot in San Jose.

San Jose's California Theatre

345 S. First St., San Jose

(all photos from Bob Shomler's website

Closed for years and near demolition by neglect, San Jose's historic California Theatre reopened in September 2004. Its restoration designed both for live stage performances and for motion pictures, it is the new home of Opera San Jose and Symphony Silicon Valley.

The original building was designed in 1927 by architects Charles Peter Weeks and William Day (architects of the Sainte Claire Hotel, Oakland's Fox Theatre, and San Francisco's Mark Hopkins Hotel). Said to be ‘the finest theater in California’ on its opening day, it is one of the best preserved examples of late 1920's motion picture houses in the country. Over the years the theatre housed vaudeville shows and featured 3D and Cinemascope.

The theaters of Weeks and Day were slightly different because they compressed Iberian and Italianate elements together. The Redevelopment Agency calls the California Theatre "a mixture of Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles."

The design elements—pan-Spanish, movie-theater baroque, Mission and more— never really collide visually.

Auditorium of California Theatre

In the 1960s and 1970s, the building passed through several owners and closed in 1973. In 1985, it was purchased by the Redevelopment Agency to preserve the City's largest remaining downtown movie palace.

Architectural Fact Sheet

Building size: 85,000 square feet historic renovation and new construction 4,000 square feet courtyard and second floor terrace
Project Opening: September 17, 2004
Construction Began: July 2001
Project Cost: $75 million
Construction Cost: $58 million
Funded by: The Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose and the Packard Humanities Institute, which financed over one-third of the project cost
Owner: Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose (acquired in 1985)
Date of original construction: 1927
Original architect: Weeks and Day
Renovation and Expansion Architect: ELS Architecture and Urban Design

The walls once again look like adobe,

with the niches made of lime or sandstone.

James Goodman, the architectural designer, worked on such projects as the restoration of San Francisco's Ferry Building and the flagship Williams-Sonoma store in Union Square.

Goodman came into the theater and started studying historic slides to make up a system of colors that would work. Part of the project included adding glazes to the walls to give them a warmer finish and redoing the lanterns in the mezzanine lobbies to recast their glow into a softer bronze. He also created an array of 80 or more colors as a file, so that future repainters will have references to work from.

From the stage, one sees the balcony ornamented with Wedgwood medallions.

The Grand Lobby still preserves the original stenciling on the ceiling--apparently having only been cleaned and touched up in a couple of places.
Twisted Corinithian half-columns line the walls. This timbered lobby ceiling matches the raised beams in the auditorium, which are a new addition to the original design.

Main Lobby California Theatre

The auditorium has been brought back to its original color scheme, with painting complete save for the front and soffit of the balcony, The new colors are true or very close to the original 1927 palette.

The chandeliers are magnificently restored with stenciled mica

duplicating the original.


Cote de Texas said...

What a wonderful tour! I especially loved the theaters - boy they sure don't make them like they used to!!!

Bella Shing said...

Hi there, Do you happen to know of any San Jose hotels with a revolving door?

Great blog!

Aitch said...

Can one take a tour or just walk around the Hayes mansion?