Jazz clubs are known for their cozy intimacy, while concert halls convey gravitas. For the first permanent home of SFJAZZ in its 35-year history, organization founder and executive artistic director Randall Kline sought to bridge that dichotomy. 'You get wonderful experiences in 'found' houses that are not intended to be performance spaces, but we also wanted the focus of a concert hall,' he says.
Kline approached San Francisco'based Mark Cavagnero Associates in 2004 to figure out this combination; it would take almost a decade and an anonymous gift of $25 million to realize the $64 million project. Today, the only American building devoted to jazz fully embodies the genre. Like a bossa nova, the exterior features a rhythmic facade layered atop rigorous structure. And, just as a great performance brings listeners together, the 700-seat concert venue fosters community by arranging steeply raked seating around a thrust stage. 'When you're there, you don't see a rear wall'you see people's faces'and no one is more than 45 feet from the stage,' Cavagnero says of this auditorium. 'It highlights the collective experience.'
Inside the hall, board-formed-concrete walls possess an elegance. They are also covertly practical, by providing acoustic isolation and buttressing the delicate surrounding spaces. 'The concrete box carries all shear forces, so we could use lightweight steel construction with 12-inch-diameter columns,' Cavagnero explains. Consequently, glass walls create the perception that the sidewalk dissolves into the ground-floor lobby, and a similarly transparent 80-seat performance room makes its energy visible to passersby. SFJAZZ hoped to attract new audiences with these gestures.
It worked. According to Kline, the 36,500-square-foot building has met or exceeded all of its projected benchmarks for success. In the two years since the new cultural institution opened its doors, membership has nearly quadrupled, from 3,000 to 11,000. Performances have tripled to 300 a year, and newcomers make up about half of attendees at each show. 'The team nailed it,' says Kline. 'The theater is set up so that the audience can really be with the performers, and vice versa'and that transcendent moment can happen more often.'
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Theater Consulting/ Video Consulting:AUERBACH POLLOCK FRIEDLANDER
Acoustics/ Audio Consulting:SIA-ACOUSTICS
Kyle Jeffers, 415-690-3586
CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Metal/glass curtain wall: Zetian
Rainscreen: Swiss Pearl
Other cladding unique to this project:
Shade: Nysan Green Screen Eco 500
Special doors: Ambico Acoustic doors
Closers: Dorma USA auto opener & Rixon
Exit devices: PRL Glass System
Pulls: PRL Glass System
Other special hardware: SEDCO ADA push button
Metal Mesh Ceiling: custom design and fabricated by Devco Engineering Inc. Flynn & Enslow metal mesh. Owens Corning QuiteR Rotary Duct Liner
Suspension grid: ARMSTRONG – Grid Sys – Prelude XL 15/16”
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Paints and stains:
Paneling: Wall and Ceiling acoustic panels: custom design white oak slat panel
Floor and wall tile:
Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Fixed seating: Mobel Opus Chairs at Auditorium
Chairs: Knoll, Emeco
Downlights: Kurt Versen, Belfer
Exterior: Bega, BK
Dimming System or other lighting controls: