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


Studio Gang is one of today's most influential architecture firms. Responsible for building iconic structures across the United States such as the Aqua Tower in Chicago, 11 Hoyt in New York and the Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theater in Rockford, Illinois, as well as major international projects like the Tour Montparnasse in Paris. Recently, the studio set its sights on San Francisco, where they are behind MIRA, a landmark tower that rises up alongside the Bay Bridge.

As a Chicago resident, Jeanne Gang, a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant recipient in 2011, has been celebrated by our sister publication, Make It Better. She was featured in that publication’s Make It Better's Most Powerful Women In Chicago, and her firm won the audience choice Best Architects in Chicago award thanks to its innovative architecture designs. 



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.