2015 Maybeck RecipientCategory
Mark Cavagnero, FAIA
Mark Cavagnero Associates .
Mark Cavagnero’s body of work, amassed over 30 years of practice, embodies a timeless quality with emphasis on clarity, volume and light. Throughout his practice, Cavagnero has remained steadfast in his belief that successful architecture can improve the communities in which we live, resulting in a portfolio of various public-serving projects for public, non-profit and institutional clients.
Cavagnero’s career began in 1983 in the New York City office of Edward Larrabee Barnes; his mentorship under Barnes profoundly influenced how he would practice. The opportunity to work on a range of educational and cultural buildings validated his belief that through design, civic and institutional buildings can elevate a community’s identity. While working side-by-side with Barnes, Cavagnero also learned a design approach where a precise language of elegance, restraint and clarity can drive a project’s process. Five years later, Mark moved west and co-founded Barnes and Cavagnero (later renamed to Mark Cavagnero Associates). Today, these values of simplicity and clarity are at one with his own, and the underlying value of his practice.
Striking a balance between new and old. His early work involved a series of historic rehabilitation and expansion projects beginning with the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and continuing with the Rafael Film Center and the Headlands Center for the Arts among others. With these projects, Cavagnero developed an architectural language where clear insertions of modern elements provide new functionality and, through their quiet simplicity, highlight and complement the historic fabric. The successful execution of the work and resulting publicity led to new rehabilitation commissions with various notable historic structures including the Oakland Museum of California expansion and renovation (2012), a landmark public museum “for the people” designed by Pritzker-winning architect Kevin Roche in the 1960’s. Modern insertions of lightweight steel folded forms complement yet differentiate from the historic monumental concrete walls and lend the museum a new modern identity as the institution evolves in the 21st century.
Clarity in new construction. Later, the idea of careful, modern insertions was applied to new free-standing buildings, where Cavagnero’s thoughts on clarity and simplicity are married to site sensitivity in context, scale and form. The Community School of Music and Arts (2004) provided the first permanent home housing educational and performance space for the non-profit organization. Located along busy arterial roadways, the building is organized around a central courtyard which buffers the program spaces from the surrounding traffic noises while lending light and organizational clarity to the school. Cast-in-place concrete is used to provide good acoustic isolation within the practice and performances spaces. Lightly stained wood siding complement the strength of the concrete and together, provide a sense of monumentality and offer the school and its arts programming a larger sense of importance and permanence within the region.
The recently completed SFJAZZ Center (2013), a new home for the 30-yearold non-profit, was the first freestanding venue in the United States designed specifically for the performance, appreciation and education in jazz. Located on the edge of San Francisco’s arts district, the design of the new center offers its own civic presence on par with its venerable neighbors—such as the Opera, Symphony and Ballet—while embodying the vibrancy of jazz. A transparent glass façade wraps the ground floor public spaces to reveal the excitement within and welcome the public inside, including the acoustically isolated, multi-purpose ensemble room that puts artists within feet of passersby. Streetfacing balconies on the second floor further connect the facility with its urban surroundings.