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Outdoor performance park planned for San Francisco Symphony’s parking lot

Atmosphere at the 7th Annual Crunchies Awards at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco on February 10, 2014. | Source: Steve Jennings/WireImage/Getty Images

The San Francisco Symphony has filed an application for major improvements to its Civic Center facility, including an outdoor performance park and a new underground parking lot.

The proposal to expand the 210,000-square-foot Davies Symphony Hall, an international destination for classical music lovers, seeks to renovate the interior of the main concert hall while also expanding the street-level lobby. Also included in the plans are a new performance park, a new recital hall and an expanded musician support wing.

If completed, the renovations would add approximately 55,000 square feet to the symphony hall—a major expansion. 

In a response to a request for comment, Director of Public Relations Taryn Lott wrote that the goal of the project is to make the “symphony’s home base more publicly accessible, transparent, and inviting.”

A screenshot from the Planning Department project application shows the proposed renovations to Davies Symphony Hall.

Yet the expansion of floor space would actually decrease the number of seats in the main hall from 2,700 to 2,100. Additional seating would be created by the construction of a new recital hall at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Hayes Street. 

The open-space areas associated with the symphony would become nearly 10 times larger, growing from 4,600 square feet to 39,000 square feet, with several new outdoor terraces. 

The existing 60-space surface parking lot at Franklin and Grove streets would be constructed with an outdoor performance park, with building areas for event activities and 76 underground parking spaces. 

The project proposal is consistent with the property’s public zoning designation, and the project would be subject to the Arts Commission’s Civic Design Review Committee. The approval process with the Planning Department is expected to take two years, Lott said.

The major expansion plan comes at a time when the San Francisco Symphony musicians are nearing 300 days of working without a contract, in what has been an ongoing labor dispute between the SF Symphony and the musicians’ union.