Mithun Wins Honor Award from Architecture at Zero National Competition Designing Zero Net Energy Campus in San Francisco

Mithun, Zero Net Energy, San Francisco, Bay Area, ESTUARY, UCSF Mission Bay campus, PG&E, AIACC

ESTUARY: Architecture at Zero 2015 Competition

Seattle and San Francisco (Nov 19, 2015) – Seattle- and San Francisco-based Mithun, a national integrated design practice including Architecture, Interiors, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Planning, announced today that the firm received the Honor Award from the Architecture at Zero national competition, for its entry titled “ESTUARY.”

ESTUARY was hailed by the competition jury for its sensitive attention to placemaking and human experience, and for its excellent synergy between engineering and architecture to achieve performance goals. The design was developed by Mithun’s multidisciplinary team in Seattle and San Francisco, in collaboration with engineers at PAE. The design concept comprises three residential structures enveloping a central terraced courtyard that connects residents as well as energy and water systems below. The community includes housing for 750 students in a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, outdoor café, childcare center, living machine, rooftop agriculture, and a shared central courtyard.

“Our design exploration and the resulting concept underscore the absolute importance of human behavior to the achievement of zero net energy performance,” said Brendan Connolly AIA, Design Partner at Mithun and member of the ESTUARY design team. “In addition to high performance building and system strategies, the design of ESTUARY celebrates human actions that drive down energy demand. Human action is an integral part of the fabric of the architecture, and this visibility further encourages stewardship, social engagement and a community-wide commitment to a zero net energy balance.”

The 2015 competition called for designing a hypothetical ZNE building on University of California, San Francisco’s (UCSF) Mission Bay campus. Mithun has deep roots in San Francisco and has current mixed-use residential projects in the Mission Bay neighborhood including the recently completed 1180 Fourth Street. 1180 Fourth was named a Grand Award winner from Multi-Family Executive Magazine.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) announced the winners of the fifth annual Architecture at Zero competition for zero net energy (ZNE) building design. The competition has awarded the six student and professional winners with a total of $25,000 in prizes. Winners were chosen out of over 30 entries that designed plans for multi-family housing that will be a ZNE structure – which produces as much clean energy as it uses during a year through a combination of energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy generation.

In a statement, Vincent Davis, senior director at competition sponsor PG&E, said, “The Architecture at Zero competition demonstrates how we can push the boundaries of reducing energy waste through innovative, efficiently designed buildings. Supporting zero net energy designs is one of the many ways PG&E can lead on its commitment to help support California’s ambitious energy efficiency goals – laid out in Senate Bill 350 and Assembly Bill 802.”

The competition, with information at, aims to generate new, innovative ideas for ZNE construction to help achieve the California Public Utilities Commission’s goals for all new residential construction in California to be ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction to be ZNE by 2030.

About Mithun
Mithun ( is a leading international design practice that creates lasting places for people. With offices in Seattle and San Francisco and a staff of more than 120, the firm’s innovative and collaborative spirit encompasses planning, urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and interior design services—a multidisciplinary approach that unites human and natural systems within the built environment. The firm has been recognized with five prestigious Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and was recently ranked as the #13 design firm in the U.S. by Architect Magazine.

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