San Francisco’s Sustainable MIRA Tower Designed by Chicago’s Jeanne Gang

MIRA Bay Bridge

Jeanne Gang, a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant recipient in 2011, has also been included in Make It Better’s Most Powerful Women In Chicago. Her firm Studio Gang won their audience choice Best Architects in Chicago award and has been widely celebrated for its innovative and sustainable architecture designs. Her most famous building is the AQUA Tower in Chicago, with some of her more recent projects including Glencoe’s Writers Theater on Chicago’s North Shore. Now she’s behind a new landmark building in San Francisco, MIRA.

MIRA San Francisco features a twisting white façade, reminiscent of a dancer twirling, that optimizes the building’s stunning ocean views and dramatic placement alongside the Bay Bridge, where SOMA meets the Embarcadero. Studio Gang worked in partnership with developers Tishman Speyer to create this high-design, yet environmentally-friendly structure.

“It was our intention to add to the architecture of the city in a way that’s not just for the people that are living there, but also for those who are walking by as well,” says Carl Shannon, senior managing director for Tishman Speyer. “We want to bring pleasure to their daily life. Studio Gang kept that in mind when they designed the way that the building twists and light plays off it.”

The MIRA building is meant to embrace the density of San Francisco’s thriving downtown, reusing the city’s signature bay window concept in a modern way, optimizing the use of natural light and air. It is a transit-oriented development, located next to the new Transbay Terminal, within easy reach of BART, MUNI and other transit lines, and also offers 150 bicycle parking spots.

“The job growth in San Francisco and the Bay Area is really strong, and communities are building a fraction of the amount of housing that is needed,” says Shannon. “We’re glad that we are able to contribute 392 nicely amenitized, quality homes to downtown San Francisco and help in our small way with the balance of housing to jobs.”

One of Gang’s trademark styles is to put ecologically friendly design front and center in everything she does, and sustainability is also part of the core philosophy of Tishman Speyer. MIRA is set to reach LEED Gold certification thanks to its many environmentally-friendly features. For example, the building used a sophisticated curtain wall facade system for its construction, allowing its windows to be attached to a structural slab within the interior, eliminating the need for cranes.

In addition, the structure’s bay windows create natural cross-ventilation and passive solar performance, giving residents fresh air and changing light qualities throughout the day, as well as reducing the need for heating and air conditioning. The roof deck incorporates a rainwater collection system, and the building also features a gray water recycling system using a variable refrigerant flow cooling system that exceeds California Title 24 energy standards.

MIRA is a stunning example of what happens when architectural excellence meets sustainable innovation.