Ute and William K. Bowes, Jr. Center for Performing Arts
Housing, Theater, Support Spaces
MEP Engineer: Meyers+
Structural Engineer: Tipping Structural Engineers
Civil Engineer: Luk and Associates
Landscape Architecture: GLS Landscape
Lighting Consultant: Auerbach Glasow French
Theater Consultant: The Shalleck Collaborative
San Francisco’s Conservatory of Music Bowes Center is a dynamic social and cultural destination that redefines the relationship between musical education, performance, and public experience. Set within the historic Civic Center's cultural and arts district, the Conservatory blends and asserts itself through compatible materials and proportions that echo the classical orders of its Beaux Arts surrounds. In a bold stroke, the base of the new building is stripped away through the use of highly transparent low-iron glass to visually reveal the creative activities occurring within.
The central lobby is conceived of as a porous community-oriented space and extension of the surrounding arts district. The ground floor is anchored by three major programmatic spaces – a café, an informal student lounge and performance area, and a glass-enclosed recital hall – all visually accessible to passersby. As such, the Conservatory is essentially a community within a community; a place for students to live, eat, practice, perform, learn and socialize within the very heart of San Francisco’s vibrant Civic Center neighborhood. Housing suites and common-area spaces for students and faculty are dispersed throughout the twelve-story building and connected together by light-filled atria. Each suite is acoustically separated to cultivate and make possible the kinds of intimately personal connections and common history necessary for students to engage in music as a shared art form.
By interlacing performance halls with student lounges, classrooms, and public spaces, the Conservatory building encourages the public’s visual and auditory access to the learning and making of music, in addition to offering more than a hundred free public concerts each year. In a welcoming architectural gesture, the “jewel-box” double-height performance space on the top floors slightly cantilevers over Van Ness Avenue below, and offers a visual connection across the street to Davies Symphony Hall. A roof terrace on the north of the building offers an event platform and gathering space, as well as panoramic views of the iconic dome of San Francisco’s City Hall. Together these devices help to redefine the role of a 21st Century Conservatory to embrace the latest trends in music education, practice, performance, and work in concert to foster a greater public connection.