Best Tall Building 100-199 meters Award of Excellence: Mira, San Francisco

Jeanne Gang
Founding Principal and Partner
Studio Gang Architects, Chicago

Matthew Biss
Managing Director, Design & Construction
Tishman Speyer, Los Angeles

A Tall New Twist on a Classic Typology

MIRA is an urban residential development in the heart of San Francisco. Just blocks from the Bay Bridge, Embarcadero, and Rincon Park, the tower creates a welcoming new community in the evolving Transbay district and accommodates a wide range of units, with 40 percent designated below market-rate. Twisting incrementally over the height of the tower, the bays give every apartment the advantages of a corner, projecting the living spaces outward and providing multidirectional views, daylight, and fresh air. Their geometry also creates the building’s dynamic form, whose faceted surface appears to shift when seen from different positions and times of the day. At street level, the bays greet pedestrians with a human-scaled texture and serve in place of awnings to protect retail storefronts and residential lobbies. Market-rate and affordable condominiums are integrated throughout the tower and the adjoining podium and townhome buildings, with a central courtyard, roof terrace, and shared amenity spaces connecting all residents.

The design responds to the need for dense housing in San Francisco, and offers new models of sustainability, all while reinterpreting the city’s architectural traditions. The bay window proliferated in San Francisco as the city grew in the late 19th century. The architecture adapts the bay window’s advantages—amplified natural light, ventilation, and views—for high-rise living, using contemporary fabrication methods and technologies. The design was inspired both from research into the city’s architectural traditions, as well as the spiraling growth patterns found in nature – ultimately translating this work into the tower’s organization of the bay windows. The bays allow for a high-performance façade that is 51 percent opaque, without inhibiting nearly 180-degree views in every unit.

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