New Ute and William K. Bowes Jr. Center San Francisco Building, Californian Architecture Photos, SFCM USA
San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s New Ute and William K. Bowes, Jr. Center
Dec 13, 2022
Architects: Mark Cavagnero Associates
Location: 200 Van Ness Ave. San Francisco, California, USA
Photos: Kyle Jeffers and Tim Griffith
New Ute and William K. Bowes Jr. Center, California
Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Civic Center, the city’s performing arts district, the Ute & William K. Bowes, Jr. Center for Performing Arts at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) was designed by Mark Cavagnero Associates (Cavagnero) as a “vertical campus” that incorporates student housing, dining, classrooms, rehearsal rooms, performance spaces, and a radio station all under one roof.
“We designed the Bowes Center as an expression of the Conservatory’s mission, where students and the public can come together to experience music in a welcoming, inspiring space,” said Mark Cavagnero, Founding Principal of Mark Cavagnero Associates. “It’s so gratifying to see it come alive; we hope the building inspires students to learn, connect, and create, in the context of the city’s performing arts leaders.”
The Center is named in honor and recognition of the $46.4M gift from the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, which marks the largest capital gift ever made to a music school; the Foundation’s namesake was a longtime SFCM supporter and trustee. Walking distance to SFCM’s Ann Getty Center at 50 Oak Street, the Conservatory’s home since 2006, the Bowes Center creates housing for up to 420 students. The building also includes 27 rent-stabilized apartments, which upgrade and replace existing units from the site’s previous building for its prior tenants.
“We’re thrilled to inaugurate the Bowes Center,” said SFCM President David Stull. “It was very important to us to create a space that encourages access and breaks down silos. For too long, the world of classical music has been seen as exclusive, with a huge barrier to entry—in its transparency, the Bowes Center invites the public in and builds connection. For students, it creates more housing and interaction between the disciplines to illustrate that a passion in music can build sustainable careers and lifelong pursuits. By creating an inviting space and offering free admission for 90% of our performances each year, we hope to build a community beyond our walls.”
Cavagnero’s design emphasizes openness, engagement, and light through its exterior of white and transparent glass. Filled with the sights and sounds of music, the Bowes Center invites passersby at this active intersection to see performances through floor to ceiling windows in its ground floor jewel-box Cha Chi Ming Recital Hall. The top two floors glow like a beacon at night, with floor to ceiling windows, the 200-seat Barbro Osher Recital Hall, flexible event space, and roof terrace offering unparalleled views of City Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, the War Memorial Opera House, and other landmarks.
Building on the firm’s innovations in the design of SFJAZZ, Cavagnero’s design for Bowes achieves the transparency of a glass exterior, while exceeding its rigorous acoustic requirements. To achieve a cohesive design language, while meeting its high acoustic demands—which change from floor to floor, with a mix of performance, practice, recording, and residential spaces throughout its twelve stories, and are made more complex by the neighboring Van Ness Avenue—the Cavagnero team designed a custom curtainwall system that integrates all acoustic requirements into one seamless envelope.
Collaborating with Kirkegaard Associates, Tipping Structural Engineers, and curtainwall fabricator CS Erectors, Cavagnero pushed the boundaries of glass’s capacity to perform at high acoustic levels. The design utilizes double-glazed walls and a floating structural slab to isolate noise and vibration transmission from the street, while maintaining transparency into the performance spaces. The double-glazed system also provides a sustainable element to the design, creating additional thermal buffer.
On the Bowes Center’s second level, the Center for New Media features studio space, lesson rooms, and critical listening rooms for students participating in the Conservatory’s Technology and Applied Composition Program. Capitalizing on the school’s location in the performing arts district, and proximity to Silicon Valley, the program prepares classically trained composers to score film and video games. The center is also used by students in SFCM’s Roots, Jazz, and American Music Program, created in partnership with SFJAZZ.
Classrooms, keyboard labs, a black box Technology Hall, and a recording studio for all SFCM students are located in highly acoustically controlled spaces in the below ground levels. Floors three through 11 hold one, two, and three-bedroom housing units, each acoustically isolated for practicing. One floor is dedicated to housing for San Francisco Ballet Students as an extension of the Conservatory’s unprecedented partnership with the nearby SF Ballet.
A “vertical campus” that incorporates affordable student housing, dining, classrooms, rehearsal rooms, performance spaces, faculty offices, and a radio station under a single roof, the Bowes Center is designed to enable students to create, learn, and share music in an integrated, collaborative environment. Named in honor and recognition of the $46.4M gift from the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, the Bowes Center doubles the school’s square footage and features state-of-the-art teaching facilities and three new performance halls.
New Ute and William K. Bowes Jr. Center in San Francisco, USA – Building Information
Architect: Mark Cavagnero Associates – https://levyaa.com/
Location: 200 Van Ness Ave. San Francisco, CA
Completion Date: 2021
Total Square Footage: 170,000 square feet
Materials: White and transparent glass
Highly acoustically-controlled music education spaces including classrooms, keyboard lab, a black-box Technology Hall, and a recording studio in the basement levels.
A ground floor with a jewel-box recital hall, visible to all passersby through floor to ceiling windows, a student center with social and study spaces, and dining from Chef Loretta Keller, known for her work at San Francisco’s Coco500
A Center for New Media on the second level with faculty offices, lesson rooms, and critical listening rooms for students participating in the Conservatory’s Technology and Applied Composition Program and the Roots, Jazz, and American Music Program.
Studio and one-bedroom apartment housing on floors 3-4, to replace a dilapidated apartment building that was previously on the site. Former tenants are moving into the new building at their prior rents.
Two and three-bedroom student housing units on floors 3 through 11, each acoustically isolated for practicing. One floor is dedicated to housing for San Francisco Ballet Students, an extension of the Conservatory’s unprecedented partnership with the nearby SF Ballet.
Short-term faculty housing on floor 12, providing 1-bedroom and studio apartments for visiting faculty and guest performers.
A 200-seat Penthouse Recital Hall, flexible event space, and terrace on the top two floors, offering unparalleled views of City Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, the War Memorial Opera House, and other landmarks.
Cavagnero Project Team
Mark Cavagnero, Founding Principal
Kang Kiang, Principal
Katy Hawkins, Associate
General Contractor: Charles Pankow Builders
Owner’s Representative: Equity Community Builders
MEP Engineer: Meyers+ Engineers
Structural Engineer: Tipping Structural Engineers
Civil Engineer: Luk and Associates
Façade Consultant: Maurya McClintock Facades
Waterproofing: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Landscape Architect: GLS
Lighting Consultant: Auerbach Glasow
Theater Consultant: The Shalleck Collaborative
Performance Space Acoustician: Kirkegaard Associates
Housing Acoustician: Salter Inc.
Code Consultant: Reax
Façade Maintenance: CS Caulkins
Door Hardware: Campbell McCabe
Sustainability: Thornton Tomasetti
Elevator Consultant: Syska Henessy
Facade Contractor: CS Erectors
Architectural Woodwork: Fetzer Architectural Woodwork
AV Integrator: BBI Inc.
About Mark Cavagnero Associates
Mark Cavagnero Associates’ vision is responsive to the ever-evolving need to unify the social and built environments. The firm consistently pursues design solutions that will ensure long-term benefits for their communities to build resources that will last for generations. In pursuit of innovation, Cavagnero investigates design concepts through an iterative process that resolves complex design issues with clarity and simplicity.
Through the values instilled by founder, Mark Cavagnero, the firm is especially sensitive to the cultural heritage and the legacy of place. Adhering to this philosophy by carefully investigating the alignment of each client’s program with a site’s cultural roots and social patterns of place, Cavagnero designs a specific response to each context.
The firm was founded in 1988 as Barnes and Cavagnero, and in 1993 became Mark Cavagnero Associates, grounded in a set of core values with a strong focus on public and institutional projects, and a belief in the power of collaboration and community building. Cavagnero consists of over 70 multi-disciplinary professionals who are committed to its socially- and environmentally conscious practice, which has made significant contributions to San Francisco’s civic life.
Photography: Kyle Jeffers and Tim Griffith
New Ute and William K. Bowes Jr. Center, San Francisco images / information received 131222
Location: San Francisco, CA, United States of America
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