The SFJAZZ Center is the first freestanding venue in the country designed specifically for jazz. The transparent, three-story Center comprises an ensemble room, 700-seat auditorium, rehearsal spaces, digital learning lab, café, box office, and administrative offices. Opened in January 2013, the Center is the organization’s first permanent home in its 30-year history connecting world class jazz artists with the community through a dedicated state-of-the-art facility supporting innovative, interactive programming.
Located on the edge of the city’s Civic Center Performing Arts District, SFJAZZ joins a constellation of established cultural venues including the Opera, the Symphony, and the Ballet. The glass and concrete structure establishes a contemporary and dynamic counterpoint to these venerable neighbors, embodying the vibrancy of jazz and actively engaging its urban surroundings. Wrapping the ground floor public spaces, a transparent glass façade reveals the excitement within, allowing the lobby, café and ensemble room to activate the urban streetscape and invite the public inside. The acoustically-isolated ensemble room—the Joe Henderson Lab—places artists within feet of street onlookers housing small performances and interactive workshops. The upper stories employ a rhythmic façade of opaque and clear glass and street-facing balconies, underscoring the Center’s civic spirit.
Conversely, the Robert N. Miner auditorium is an intimate and focused space. This flexible, state-of-the-art space accommodates audiences from 350 to 700. Tiered seating with terraces on four sides and a reconfigurable in-the-round stage support a wide variety of performances and contribute to a dynamic experience for the audience and musicians alike. Automated AcouRoll banners mask portions of the room for a more intimate atmosphere for smaller audiences. Video presentations can be projected on a large roll down screen or on the wall behind the stage. Artistic lighting is controlled with incandescent and LED sources with a moving light control console.
The acoustics of the auditorium provide a very low noise environment where the nuance of tone of each instrument can be heard from every seat with the capability to record or broadcast at extremely high quality. A combination of sound scattering and sound absorbing materials hidden behind wooden slats covering the sidewalls and ceiling project sound uniformly throughout the audience and allow musicians to clearly hear other players. The sound system includes digital consoles, Meyer MIna speakers for the main clusters and a center cluster of subwoofers electronically adjusted to provide sound uniformity.
The Center also expands SFJAZZ’s educational programming and outreach, providing rehearsal space for the group’s High School ensemble and serving as the new home of the Center’s Collective. The Collective brings together the world’s finest jazz musicians to examine the work of a great jazz master, followed by composing an original work. Through these experimental and educational efforts, together with year-round concerts, the Center promotes the vitality, evolution and cultural significance of jazz.