Burlingame’s Hyatt Cinema originally opened on September 15, 1964 as the “Hyatt Music Theatre,” a venue for live musicals. It was the first theater “in the round” to be located on the San Francisco Peninsula, predating San Carlos’ Circle Star Theatre by roughly one month. Unfortunately, the Hyatt’s original business concept failed to attract regular crowds and in 1966, the theater was remodeled for film use. The rechristened “Hyatt Cinema” operated as a movie theater for over forty years before closing in 2007. This futuristic building currently sits empty.
City of Burlingame, Building Department
Burlingame Historical Society
Aerial view, vintage postcard image; photographer unknown
Hyatt Cinema Front (2008); Photographer credit: Heather David
Building Detail (2008); Photographer credit: Heather David
Hyatt Sign Detail (2008); Photographer credit: Heather David
The Hyatt Cinema building is a modern box topped by an eye-popping roof that resembles an upside-down scalloped bowl. The theater entrance is marked by a bright white colonnade, which serves both as a decorative element as well as a functional screen. A series of globe lights grace both exterior and interior.
Although the Hyatt offered its earliest form of entertainment “in the round,” its exterior, ironically, is square. Perhaps Raney needed to differentiate the Hyatt Theatre from his signature Century dome? Also unique to this Raney theater design is the concrete colonnade, reminiscent of Oscar Niemeyer’s presidential palace at Brasilia (1958).