Ute and William K. Bowes, Jr. Center for Performing Arts

Mark Cavagnero Associates

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Bowes Center is a dynamic social and cultural destination that melds musical education, performance, and public experience. The new building is designed as a “vertical campus” that incorporates housing, dining, classrooms, rehearsal rooms, performances spaces, faculty offices, and a radio station under one roof. This rich program uses the latest in acoustical innovation and is consciously stacked in opposition to urban sprawl in a growing city. Set within the historic Civic Center's cultural and arts district, the Bowes Center blends and asserts itself through compatible materials and proportions that echo its surroundings.

Housing equity is a focus of the project. Student housing suites and common-area spaces for students and faculty are dispersed throughout the twelve-story building, providing housing for music students in the heart of the arts district, while 27 rent-stabilized apartments replace units from the site’s previous building. The base of the new building is lined with highly transparent low-iron glass to visually reveal the creative activities occurring within, to draw the public in to hundreds of free performances each year. The central lobby is a porous, community-oriented entrance to the ground floor, which is anchored by three major programmatic spaces – a café, an informal student lounge, and a glass-enclosed recital hall – all visually accessible to passersby. On the top floor, a double-height performance space cantilevers over Van Ness Avenue, making a visual connection across the street to Davies Symphony Hall and the iconic dome of City Hall.