Location: Fillmore neighborhood, San Francisco
Program: Rejuvenation of an historic theater
The Historic Clay Theater
The Clay theater was built in 1913 in the heart of the vibrant Fillmore neighborhood. Its long story as a single-screen movie theater came to an end in January 2020 when, after years of changes in the film industry and movie-watching trends, the doors closed for good. The 4,400 square foot space was granted landmark status in 2021 but remains closed and vacant today. DNM Architecture was enlisted by the building owner, Balgobind Jaiswal, to rehabilitate the building and bring the space back to the community as a new business with a familiar façade in the bustling Fillmore area.
DNM’s design will fully restore the building’s exterior and marquee with only minor changes to replace the storefront and add a display window. The building’s interior will be beautifully restored, including the original plaster molding and proscenium arch; it will also feature updates like a new level floor (built over and thus preserving the original sloped flooring) and toilets. The theater’s lobby and auditorium spaces will remain intact while new openings will be inserted into the partition separating the two spaces to provide the openness and transparency needed for retailers. Finally, the building will be fully brought up to current California and San Francisco codes with energy systems and infrastructure upgrades.
“The Clay Theater is historic for its cultural ties to the community and deserves to be restored and re-opened as a viable local business,” says DNM Principal, David Marlatt, AIA. “We are excited to give it the attention and care it deserves and needs to bring it into the 21st century. We hope our full restoration will turn the empty building into a vibrant retail space in the Fillmore neighborhood.”