Bowes Center Update | February 2020

Bowes Center

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 newest addition to campus doubles SFCM’s physical space, provides dorm room housing for 420 students, which are sound-proof suites so students can practice on site, plus brings state-of-the-art teaching facilities and three new performance halls to San Francisco’s Civic Center arts corridor. Additionally, the new building will include 27 rent-stabilized housing units for the residents who previously inhabited apartments at this location. On track to open in just six months for the 2020/21 academic year, the Bowes Center is soon ready to welcome you, whether you’re a current student, prospective student, concert attendee, or supporter.

Topping Out

In December, we celebrated "topping out" the Bowes Center with the ceremonial placement of the final beam. SFCM students provided musical fanfare to mark the occasion, the construction crew joined in on a “Who Knows Bowes?” quiz, donors signed the final beam before its rise to the top, and SFCM President David Stull and Board Chair Timothy Foo made remarks upon this milestone in our transformative building project.
Read San Francisco Classical Voice coverage ››
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Construction Update

If you've driven by recently or seen our webcam, you've seen that the Bowes Center has reached its full height, with installation of the building's exterior now underway. Curtainwall units (i.e. the exterior covering) through the 10th floor are complete, and the large glass facade on street level enclosing the recital hall, restaurant, and student center were installed in December. The sloped roof was poured on December 18, and the internal build out of the two basement level floors is already in process with the isolated slab for the lower level Technology Hall poured in January.

Interior work continues as each floor nears completion, from framing to insulating walls and building out mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. At the end of last month, we began building out the rooftop terrace that will be open to students and the public for special events.

Location, Location, Location

If you haven’t visited campus, this 14-story building is located at 200 Van Ness, which is across the street from Davies Hall (home of San Francisco Symphony), catty-corner to the War Memorial Opera House (home of SF Opera and SF Ballet), and overlooks San Francisco’s stunning City Hall to the north and the downtown skyline to the east. Not to mention, the Bowes Center is walkable to nearly a dozen other arts and cultural institutions, such as SF JAZZ, the Asian Art Museum, Orpheum Theatre, and others; plus is situated at the east end of Hayes Valley, literally on the cross-street of Hayes (read: tons of food, coffee shops, and shopping), as well as close to BART and MUNI public transportation lines. More below on how to schedule a site tour so we can show you around in person.

Financial Aid, Dining, & Student Employment at Bowes

In addition to 99% of students receiving financial aid, the Bowes Center offers on campus housing to all SFCM students. Additionally, an onsite dining plan will be available to help students and their families with budgeting the cost of meals. Lastly, the additional space and facilities at the Bowes Center allows for increased employment opportunities for students.

New Bowes & Ballet Partnership

We recently announced a deepened partnership with the San Francisco Ballet, through which SFCM will help meet one of San Francisco’s most critical needs—housing—for SFB School students in the Bowes Center. The 5th floor of the building will house 52 ballet students, which includes round-the-clock security, on-site residential staff, and floor access that is further secured by elevator access passes.

The Bowes Center residency builds on multiple pre-existing partnerships between SFB School and SFCM: a January Winter Term course at SFCM on collaborative piano; SFB recruits current and former SFCM students to play for the School’s classes and rehearsals; multiple SFCM students have won auditions for the SF Ballet Orchestra; and SFCM’s Technology and Applied Composition students and faculty compose new ballet scores for the Company and School.

With this increased partnership, beginning in the fall of 2020 SFB School students will take music appreciation classes at the Conservatory, with plans to augment the curriculum in the future. Workshops and classes are in development that support student wellness and injury prevention for both SFB School and SFCM students.
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Building Highlights, Bottom to Top

Floor by floor, here’s the layout from the (sub) ground up.

Lower Level 2: A Technology Hall will offer a multipurpose performance and workshop space for multimedia projects and productions developed primarily by SFCM’s Technology and Applied Composition department. The adjacent Recording Room will include state-of-the-art recording equipment that directly interfaces with all of the Bowes Center’s performance spaces. This level also includes secure bike storage for students.

Lower Level 1: Ensemble rehearsal and teaching spaces, all equipped with audio recording capability so students can self-record and have the file sent to their phone or email account, as well as acoustically tailored percussion studios, and classrooms. Also, this level hosts an industry-leading digital composing lab outfitted with professional standard sample libraries and music technology software, dual screen MAC computers, and 88 Key weighted Nord Keyboards at each of the 21 workstations.

First/Ground Floor: A restaurant and a recital hall on the public-accessible side of the building, as well as offices for Student Affairs / Residential Life / Counseling, Security Desk (24/7 Security), Student Cafe, and Lounge. To get to the educational side of the building and/or onto the student housing floors, guests will have to use their ID badges to pass through security gates (faculty and student badges for educational spaces and student and residential staff badges for housing spaces). Elevators will also require badge access to non-public floors.

Second Floor: Faculty offices, teaching spaces, and KDFC Classical Radio’s new home will be on this floor, allowing the station to broadcast from our venues as well as further support the neighboring Civic Center performing arts ecosystem. The second floor will also feature a conference room for faculty and four state-of-the-art, acoustically-specialized critical listening rooms with 5.1 sound for use on mixing of student projects.

Third and Fourth Floors: Replacement housing units. These 27 residences replace the apartment building that was previously in this location, offered to the original tenants at a rent-stabilized rate. These units have their own elevator that goes only to these floors.

Fifth floor: The San Francisco Ballet School (SFBS) will have student housing on this floor. The SFBS has their own student affairs / residential life teams.

Sixth to Tenth floors: SFCM Student Housing. These four-person units (comprised of two bedrooms, each with two twin extra-long beds) share a living area, a small kitchenette (microwave convection oven, sink, refrigerator, small freezer), and a bathroom (toilet, shower/tub, sink).

The bedrooms are carpeted, the kitchen and living area feature a wear-resistant vinyl-style flooring, and the bathroom is tiled. The living area is designed to convert easily into ensemble rehearsal space and includes a dining table and chairs, as well as a modular sofa unit with a side table. In addition to the two twin extra-long beds with mattresses, the bedrooms also include two wardrobes, two two-drawer dressers, and two side shelves that attach to the bed. The furniture is a style that is used in a number of colleges and universities—durable and flexible, meaning the beds can be lofted or bunked at the students' request.

Eleventh floor: Penthouse Recital Hall overlooking City Hall and the SF skyline and associated backstage areas, plus additional SFCM student housing. (The student spaces are not accessible via the public portions of this floor, i.e. they require key card access.)

Twelfth floor: Visiting faculty suites, a large Conference Room for hosting events, and a Board Room space that will also be accessible to students as an open reading room location in which to study. Topping the building is an outdoor rooftop terrace that overlooks Civic Center Plaza and the stunning Beaux-Arts dome of City Hall. In addition to expanding performance and public spaces for students, the Eleventh and Twelfth Floor facilities will also host SFCM programs such as the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, the Center for Innovative Leadership, and other preeminent industry gatherings.

Fundraising Update

Fundraising Progress graph The total anticipated cost of the Bowes Center is $193M. In addition to the lead gift of $46.4M from Ute and William K. Bowes, the largest capital gift ever made to a music school, to date we have raised $113.1M for the project towards the $125M goal. This means we are 90% towards the fundraising total. The second phase of the public capital campaign launches this spring, and if you would like to help us reach this goal or have questions, please contact Katie Nicely, Vice President of Advancement, at or 415-503-6303.

Site Tours & Student Info Sessions

All are welcome to come see the Bowes Center progress up close, as we’d love nothing more than if you joined us. Note: tours for prospective students also take you through the existing campus facilities.

Prospective students, schedule tours here ››

All other parties, schedule tours here ››

Current students, see info sessions here ››

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the project to date, and we can’t wait to open the Bowes Center doors to San Francisco and beyond in only six months. See more information on the Bowes Center campaign and residential life.