SAN FRANCISCO - The SFJAZZ organization is known to host events at a wide variety of venues across San Francisco, but now they have a place to call their own. The design for the new SFJAZZ Center was born from a clear understanding of the essence of the kind of venue that would best personify the philosophy of the organization and its mission. To codify an approach the entire design team visited and experienced a wide variety of venues from small intimate “jazz joints”, historical jazz venues such as the Village Vanguard and Jazz Standard, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall and St. Anne’s Warehouse as well as popular Bay Area establishments. The wide spectrum of venues allowed the design team to gain the proper perspective for what would be unique and express the spirit of SFJAZZ. Auerbach Pollock Friedlander provided theatre and video consulting for the new facility working with architect Mark Cavagnero Associates and SIA Acoustics.
In the early phases, Founding Principal Len Auerbach collaborated with Artistic Director Randall Kline exploring various approaches that would help guide the design for the main performance space to fit SFJAZZ’s mission and functional criteria. “Len was instrumental in the creation and realization of SFJAZZ Center,” said Kline. “He guided me with his wisdom early on and then, with his expertise, proceeded to help us fulfill this ambitious project. Len is a consummate professional and an industry leader, but perhaps most importantly he brought heart into this project.”
Numerous iterations of room configurations were developed from the most formal to the most eccentric. “An auto muffler shop used to stand on the site and one of the biggest challenges was fitting the desired design configuration within the very compact area,” said Auerbach. “All members of the design team and SFJAZZ staff worked in an integrated fashion to make it successful. The separate performance, public and administrative areas were conceived to function to specific needs and work together as a whole.”
The new three-story Center’s main venue, the Robert N. Miner Auditorium, can be formatted with as many as eight configurations from 350 to 700 seats depending upon the performance requirements. Auerbach Pollock Friedlander’s work also included the Ensemble Room, which can be used for rehearsals or as an intimate performance space, three practice rooms and a digital lab. Administrative space and a café complete the space.
“The SFJAZZ Center is a tremendous asset to the Civic Center Cultural District that includes the War Memorial Opera House, the War Memorial Veterans Building, Davies Symphony Hall and the Conservatory of Music,” said Auerbach. “Having consulted with each of these venues, I can tell you that they are all special and SFJAZZ offers something all its own.”
The SFJAZZ Center Grand Opening is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 21, 2013, followed by two weeks of celebrations from international and local Bay Area artists. The venue is the first stand-alone building in the US designed specifically for jazz and was designed to LEED Silver specifications.
Robert N. Miner Auditorium
Auerbach Pollock Friedlander designed the seating, stage and auditorium configuration for the Robert N. Miner Auditorium in collaboration with architect Mark Cavagnero Associates. Up to 700 patrons are accommodated in the custom theatre, with seats no further than 50 feet from the stage. The room is configured for optimal intimacy by wrapping the stage on four sides with tiered seating risers and terraces, ideal for experiencing jazz concerts and other events. Flexible stage and seating configurations are achieved with manual and semi-automated platforms, stair plugs and custom portable seating. A resilient floor in the lower orchestra accommodates standing concerts or dancing by audience and/or performers. Auerbach Pollock Friedlander was integral in the development of the family of custom seats including fixed theatre seats, loose stacking chairs and swivel stools; all creating a unified visual audience experience while providing excellent sightlines, comfort and meeting all ADA guidelines.
Auerbach Pollock Friedlander developed flexible theatrical systems including the piano lift, material lift, overhead rigging support and technical catwalk system, theatrical lighting, room reduction banners, video projection systems and broadcast infrastructure.
Seating surrounds the stage in various asymmetrical locations and elevations for intimacy and a variety of viewing experiences.
Six automated variable acoustics banners are concealed from the audience behind the upstage wall. Configurations are determined by the acoustician and recorded by the owner at the touch screen control panel back stage.
11 automated room reduction banners shape the hall visually for various types of performances. Configurations allow for the seating to be reduced to approximately 350 seats for more intimate performances.
22 semi-automated scissor platforms store flush to the main finished floor for dance and flat floor events. Raised from the storage position, the platforms provide flexible seating risers.
30-plus stage extension platforms allow multiple stage configurations. Combined with the semi-automated platforms, more than eight seating and stage configurations are possible.
One material lift assists with providing useful storage below the seating risers.
One piano lift allows for access from the piano storage and stage level to the audience and Ensemble room levels.
An acoustic canopy contains an integrated hidden film screen.
The overhead lighting catwalks, balcony rail and soffit lighting positions allow for various theatrical lighting angles consistent with the asymmetrical room design.
Pathways, technical power and camera mounting positions provide for graceful accommodation of a broadcast television production truck for documenting high-profile events.
The Ensemble Room is a multi-purpose space directly off the lower lobby for rehearsing larger acts and intimate performances. The flexible space allows for up to 70 patrons and is located at street-level with glass walls on two corners emphasizing a connection to the surrounding area.
A computerized lighting control system and power is provided for technical needs. The Ensemble Room is designed to provide an intimate environment with technical support appropriate for rehearsals and experimenting with live musical performances. The floor is sound isolated. The window walls are equipped with integrated acoustical banners as well as mechanical shades. Overhead is an integrated series of strut and theatrical purpose bus power tracks for theatrical lighting and speaker hang points. A video screen is integrated into the ceiling for projection.
11 automated variable acoustics banners shape window walls acoustically for various types of performances. Configurations are determined by the acoustician and recorded by the owner at the touch screen control panel back stage.
Integrated ceiling lighting bus track and strut allow for flexible lighting while maintaining a clean designed ceiling.
Practice Rooms and Digital Lab
The venue’s practice rooms and digital lab support the educational programs of the SFJAZZ organization. Auerbach Pollock Friedlander’s scope of work in these spaces included general theatre consulting and production video elements.