SFCM Announces $46.4 Million Gift for New Building: Ute and William K Bowes, Jr. Center for Performing Arts

A rendering of the Ute and William K. Bowes, Jr. Center for Performing Arts at 200 Van Ness Avenue Courtesy of Mark Cavagnero Associates

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) announces the expansion of its campus and the construction of the Ute and William K. Bowes, Jr. Center for Performing Arts (The Bowes Center) in San Francisco’s Civic Center. The $185 million performing arts center and residential tower will be located at 200 Van Ness Avenue and construction will begin in the summer of 2018. The opening of the new building is slated for the fall of 2020 when it will welcome its first class of residents to a facility that will transform students through the study of music at the highest level. The name of the building is in honor and recognition of a financial gift of $46.4 million from the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, which is the largest single gift ever made to a conservatory or music school for a new facility. To date, $96 million has been raised toward a fundraising goal of $110 million. The existing SFCM building at 50 Oak Street will remain in active use through the construction of the new building and after it is completed.

The new, 12-story building, designed by Mark Cavagnero Associates, will provide housing for 420 students and accommodate two concert halls (featuring hundreds of performances annually with over 90% of them free and open to the public), a restaurant with a live performance space, multiple classrooms and rehearsal spaces for ensembles, practice rooms, a recording studio and technology hall, a large observation deck and garden, conference facilities, a student center, and several apartments for visiting artists and faculty. In addition, the new building will include 27 apartments to replace the rent-stabilized residential units currently on site.
The SFCM expansion is driven by the dynamic evolution of the school’s curriculum that began in 2013 with the implementation of a strategic vision to build the conservatory of tomorrow with the following objectives:
● Fuse world-class training with intensive, creative work driven by imagination
● Develop critical thinking skills essential to a prosperous and rewarding life
● Require business courses and professional development experiences that are applicable     to any field
● Provide defined curricular space for experimentation and risk and build self-reliance
● Create a program to launch new ideas and innovative artistic models
● Harness strong partnerships with the technology sector, the San Francisco Symphony,           Opera, and SFJAZZ to propel student    experiences unmatched within the profession
● Launch the Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) program, preparing classically           trained composers to score for film and games with a focus on collaborative work and            linked to Silicon Valley partners
● Launch the Roots, Jazz, and American Music (RJAM) program in partnership with                   SFJAZZ, and with performance opportunities in    conjunction with the SFJAZZ Collective
● Provide an education for life and prepare students for success in any endeavor
The Conservatory asserts this curricular platform as the model for the great music school of the next century: a program designed to transform students and inspire their best work. The Bowes Center for Performing Arts will serve as a critical lynchpin and crucible for imagining the future as the school embarks on its second century as a singular destination for aspiring young artists.
“This project will fuel the unlimited potential of this institution and serve as a beacon for the innovative artists who will lead the next generation,” says SFCM President David H. Stull. “Bill Bowes believed that music and beauty are essential to life and that education offers the best promise for tomorrow. I am profoundly grateful to both Bill and Ute for their inspiring investment and their transformative impact on our school. We miss Bill very much and none of this would have been possible without him.”
“The new building on Van Ness Avenue for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music has been a singular and exemplary effort in many ways,” says Mark Cavagnero. “It will provide a completely integrated environment where students will live, learn, rehearse, perform, socialize, and engage the larger community. There has been extraordinary attention paid to detail and the craft of building, to materiality and light, as these will inspire each student in different ways at different times. This building, this organism, will be alive 24 hours a day, filled with the sights and sounds of music and people, propelling the Conservatory forward for generations to come, in the very heart of the San Francisco Performing Arts District.”

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