The Mashouf Performing Arts Center at San Francisco State University establishes a new iconic gateway at the University’s western edge, facilitating creativity and collaboration while solidifying programmatic, visual, physical, and cultural connections to the campus, surrounding community, and the city beyond. The 242,150 square foot building, to be constructed in three phases, features expanded performance, practice and academic spaces for the University’s College of Creative Arts.


Central to the Center’s design is an expansive horizontal datum that extends throughout the building. This spatial datum is a reinterpretation of the traditional campus quadrangle landscape, one that reconsiders the physical and social role of the quad in campus life within a single building. This interior topography encourages interaction and collaboration between students, faculty, visiting professionals, and makes physical and visual connects to the larger campus. Working in concert with the unifying datum, landscape zones are interwoven with the architectural forms to organize the diverse program of theaters, classrooms, and public areas across the site. These open spaces connect the campus to the east with the park landscape to the west and provide distinct landscapes settings that complement the academic and performance spaces.


The building’s architectural form is defined by the iconic volumes that punctuate the horizontal circulation datum and house the primary performance spaces. The centerpiece of Phase I is the 1,200-seat Theater, which provides a space supporting a range of performance, including theater, music, opera, and dance, as well as serving as a hall for University-wide lectures and other large events. Phase 2 includes the 450-seat Little Theater surrounded by the Department of Theater Arts and its instructional spaces. The 250-seat Black Box Theater is located nearby, with direct access from the central courtyard, and ringed by an upper-level mezzanine integrated into the adjacent instructional spaces. In Phase 3, a 200-seat lecture hall descends to meet the southern courtyard. Incorporated into the School of Music and Dance, the 350-seat Music Recital Hall forms the courtyard’s southern boundary.


Sustainable design strategies are implemented throughout the planned LEED Gold building. Sloped forms route rainwater across the expanse of the building’s roof, combining with landscape elements to route stormwater to planters and other areas where it can be filtered and returned to the ground. Within much of the building’s interior, non-performance spaces such as lobbies and classrooms are naturally ventilated with program elements organized to enable exterior cross-ventilation. For interior spaces deeper within the building’s floorplate, the building form lifts, allowing the lower level to serve as a plenum, drawing cooler air up and through the building and allowing warmer air to exit through raised elements arranged across the building’s roof surface.

LOCATION / San Francisco, California
TYPE / Music, Dance, Broadcast, and Theater Arts Center
SIZE / 242,000sf
STATUS / Design Completed
ROLE / Design Architect & Architect of Record
COST / $146 million
AWARDS / AIA Los Angeles NEXT LA Award, 2011