Hunters Point event revamps Opera House
By Maya Strausberg
October 19, 2007
The Bayview Opera House will begin its new facelift today with
a ceremony celebrating the community's involvement in the building's
SWA Group, a local landscape architecture firm, is leading a
pro-bono implementation valued at approximately $100,000. The
event and work on the historic building will help SWA Group celebrate
its 50th anniversary.
The building, which houses the Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre,
has stood in the Bayview Hunters Point District since 1888. It
seats 300 people and is the first and oldest opera house in San
In 1989, the Bayview Opera House Inc. began running programs,
offering classes and throwing events that would benefit the community.
The historic building will now be transformed thanks to efforts
made by SWA Group, the San Francisco Arts Commission and a number
of community volunteers, including some 20 neighborhood children.
"The Bayview Opera House is a San Francisco landmark, dearly
loved by the community," said Arts Commission President PJ
Johnston. "The landscape improvements are but one part of
a longer-term effort of revitalizing the Bayview Opera House,
creating a neighborhood park and transforming this location to
become the heart of the Bayview."
Upgrades to the opera house will include a marquee, a garden
cafe, a story garden, new planting and lighting, enhancing the
100-year-old trees on the property and improvements to the outdoor
An information kiosk will be set up in time for the event in
order to inform the community about the landscape, sustainability
and what role trees can play in the area. SWA designed the kiosk
with the roof covered in about 1,500 potted plants, said SWA Principal
SWA Group decided to hold its 50th anniversary meeting in San
Francisco where its original office is located. But instead of
a typical symposium, they had the idea to have an event that would
let the staff and associates give back to the community while
the principals had their meeting.
"The Opera House landscape improvements are meant to have
elements that are both permanent and temporary, and enhance the
property exterior while engaging passersby and visitors into a
more pleasing green-scape," said SWA Principal Rene Bihan.
"The broader goal is to bring life to the Opera House itself
and to a very visible gateway to the Hunters Point district."
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell,
along with members of the Arts Commission and SWA Group, are scheduled
to appear for the dedication and celebration at noon at the Bayview
Opera House, 4705 Third St.
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