Former San Jose City Hall Wins Modernism in America Award

save city hall

The Modernism in America Awards Jury and Docomomo US have awarded Omgivning and client Preservation Action Council of San Jose with a Citation of Merit for their advocacy efforts to save the Former San Jose City Hall, it was announced today.

The jury commended the team’s “proactive approach despite an uphill battle and the strong team of partners that was assembled to support the effort. The building now has a chance to be considered for further use.”

Celebrated when it opened in 1958, San Jose’s former City Hall was one of the first civic buildings built in International Style, a modernist style popularized in the mid-20th century in Europe and the U.S. Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and cultural significance, unfortunately, it has been vacant since 2005 when a new city hall was completed.

The Preservation Action Council of San Jose petitioned to keep the building from being demolished, expressing an interest in adaptive reuse in an effort to revitalize the surrounding area. Omgivning was then approached to author a study, making the case for preservation through an adaptive reuse strategy and a proposed new construction component.

The study detailed how the original space could be reconfigured for housing units, and a new, ground-up building could be added in the vacant space next door to increase the affordable unit count and densify the underutilized real estate parcel. Focused on human-centered solutions, the study also introduced open space amenities, access to a lively outdoor environment, and mixed-use opportunities, from residential and hotel to offices and retail.

This work has already yielded positive results, as the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted in December 2022 to reject demolition and more thoroughly explore reuse options.

old san jose city call vintage

Presented by the Docomomo US Board of Directors, the Modernism in America Awards recognize outstanding efforts to preserve and advocate for threatened modern buildings, structures, or landscapes of local, regional or national significance through advocacy efforts. The awards seeks to recognize preservation and advocacy organizations and other groups (including Docomomo US chapters) who have gone above and beyond to work collectively and collaboratively to advocate for a modern site or structure. Learn more about the Modernism in America Awards at

Adaptive Reuse, Architecture, Revitalization