Ute & William K. Bowes Jr. Center for Performing Arts, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

  • Prize
    Winner in Architectural Design - Educational
  • Company/Firm
    Mark Cavagnero Associates
  • Lead Designer
    Mark Cavagnero, Katy Hawkins, David Kwon
  • Design Team
    Kang Kiang, Joseph Holsen, Tim Waters, Olga Luebker, Sean Wong, David Bibliowicz
  • Architect
    Mark Cavagnero Associates
  • Interior Designer
    Mark Cavagnero Associates
  • Const. Company
    Charles Pankow Builders
  • Photo Credit
    Tim Griffith Photography, Kyle Jeffers
  • Location
    San Francisco, California
  • Client
    San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • Project Date

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.

Student housing suites and common-area spaces for students and faculty are dispersed throughout the twelve-story building, 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 reveal the creative activities occurring within and draw the public in to hundreds of free performances each year. The central lobby is a porous, community-oriented entrance, anchored by three major programmatic spaces – a café, student lounge, and a glass-enclosed recital hall – all visually accessible to passersby. On the top floor, a double-height performance space connects visually to the city.

Mark Cavagnero Associates is a San Francisco-based architecture firm built on a foundation of serving civic, cultural and institutional clients. We approach each project with a focus on the immediate and greater community it will serve. The firm has completed a wide range of architectural and master planning projects based on this ideal, including large and small scale institutional, non-profit, and commercial projects. The firm provides a full range of services, from programming, master planning, site planning and conceptual design, through construction documents and administration.

Other prizes
In addition to being well-received by users and the community, our work has garnered more than 100 design awards from local, state, national and international organizations. Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects was honored with the AIA California Council’s 2012 Firm of the Year Award, the highest honor that the organization bestows upon a firm, recognizing distinguished architecture and a culture of mentoring the next generation of architects. The firm ranks in Architect magazine’s 2015 The Architect 50, the ranking of the top 50 architectural firms in the country. Mark Cavagnero was personally honored with the AIA California Council’s 2015 Maybeck Award, a lifetime achievement award often referred to as the “Gold Medal of California.” In every project we design we strive for logic, strength, functional excellence, clarity, sustainability, economical use of materials, and, of course, beauty. Ultimately, the challenge of our work is to build something that authentically represents our core values and innate beliefs: fairness, stability, strength, and openness.