Proposed Alexandria Theater Improvements
With the Planning Department having identified a number of character-defining features of the blighted Alexandria Theater, on Wednesday the sponsors of the theater’s proposed redevelopment will present their plans for avoiding, or mitigating, any significant adverse effects in terms of historical preservation to San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission.
Amongst the plans for the makeover: new paint, backlighting, light boxes, and neon.
Alexandria Theater Plans A Few Weeks From First Public Screening [SocketSite]
Now Showing At The Shuttered Alexandria Theater: Blight [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by AnonArch

    I cannot think of any other American city that is as obsessed with saving old unwanted movie theaters as San Francisco. Besides the Castro Theater which has found a way to keep itself desirable and relevant, the only other theater I wish WOULD have been saved is the Fox Theater, but the “Alexandria” and Pagoda theaters are architectural junk and should be removed.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8o90jvKRec&feature=related
    The Alexandria is no Fox Theater, and although I am a modernist, I can still appreciate why people would miss the Fox Theater.

  2. Posted by steve

    Repaint the boarder (B)? I was under the impression that the structure was unoccupied. He or she may object.

  3. Posted by anonarch

    I forgot in my orignal post to quote from the video I linked to:
    “to beautify Market Street, San Francisco made all of the movie palaces tear off their front marquees and signs”.
    Somehow I would not be surprised if in 50 years the city asks that this signage be removed.
    (The fox wurlitzer organ was restored by Walt Disney company and is now at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood)

  4. Posted by lol

    K – POUR HIGHLY DURABLE AMBER

  5. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    The obsession with preserving theater facades would not be so strong if modern theaters continued the tradition of adding flamboyant and fanciful marquees to the streetscape. Instead we get bland big boxes with generic back-lit plexiglas signage nestled in a shopping mall and surrounded a sea of parking. The Metreon was an exception.
    The theater buildings themselves are generally nothing special but the facades do act as landmarks and create a sense of place.
    And as for repainting that boarder, any color but white please otherwise he’ll be invisible in the snow.

  6. Posted by frenchjr25

    I’m surprised they are not being required to actually restore the exterior to it’s original look. So much better than what is there now.
    Don’t judge a historic building on it’s current state of disrepair. The Alexandria had some wonderful details when the sign was added (the original sign was not original to the building. the current sign is the 2nd one).
    http://webbie1.sfpl.org/multimedia/sfphotos/AAA-8540.jpg
    I am worried about the wonderful interior details.
    http://www.cinematour.com/picview.php?db=us&id=3095
    http://www.cinematour.com/tour/us/2792.html
    We are too quick to tear things down. But if they can reuse the auditorium in a way that preserves the details then I say go for it.

  7. Posted by frenchjr25

    The FOX organ is in the El Capitan.

  8. Posted by invented

    As much as I love modern — we are also stewards of the architecture and design of the eras — including the funk and weird for the generations to come. That said, I’d like to see this structure preserved, but would also like to see a very tall residential tower –on top of or next to. This site is in midst of a dense, interesting, lively & ethnically rich area of mid-Geary — and a better mix-up of housing options in this area would be a good thing.

  9. Posted by sfrenegade

    “I cannot think of any other American city that is as obsessed with saving old unwanted movie theaters as San Francisco.”
    We do preserve a lot of strange things here. However, I think the problem in San Francisco is that we don’t allow a real functional replacement structure to be made while maintaining the theater facade. A good example of a job well-done is the AMC Empire in Times Square. They kept the old theater facade and interior as the box office and built a real modern theater over it. We don’t do things like that here, partly because the NIMBYs don’t let you do anything.
    invented’s comment is helpful here:
    “That said, I’d like to see this structure preserved, but would also like to see a very tall residential tower –on top of or next to.”

  10. Posted by frenchjr25

    For some reason we don’t seem to be able to be creative with new construction. AMC in NYC is a good example of what could have been done with the St. Francis theatre. AMC actually kept the interior of the original theatre as well (major changes and did not restore it as originally promised but nothing that can’t be fixed later on).
    And we are too stuck on keeping buildings all the same height. With modern engineering a tower could easily be built above the Alexandria while preserving the exterior and most of the interior.
    Again in NYC they did this (without the facade) with the Palace Theatre. They built a tower above it.
    Of course the towers we are building tend to be very bland, lack any true architectural detail, and are depressing in their lack of color and texture.
    There really needs to be some changes in how buildings are planned and what it means to create a vibrant community and city.
    Of course we are also the city that is putting arts into the Tenderloin instead of dealing with the problems that people living there are facing.

  11. Posted by kthnxybe

    I like it. It will look nicer. I think the condo plan we saw earlier will work out well. I don’t want a skyscraper in the mid Richmond. That would look silly and out of place.

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