On behalf of our larger team, I wanted to thank you for the hard work on structuring a wonderful competition that provided a great challenge but also a really enjoyable exploration – we really enjoyed the process and thinking about such an important site.
— Professional winner 2015


The Architecture at Zero competition challenge is to create a zero net energy bayside community education and visitor’s center, in support of the mission of the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies (RTC).  This facility is San Francisco State University’s center for estuary and ocean science located on 53 acres of bayside property in Tiburon, California.

The competition has two components. First, entrants will create an overall site plan to accommodate the program. Entrants are encouraged to highlight any energy efficiency strategies or systems shown.  Second, entrants will design two buildings in detail, to indicate zero net energy (ZNE) performance. In order to demonstrate the building design and its performance, entrants will provide required documentation and may also include supplementary documentation.


This competition is open to students, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, engineers and designers anywhere in the world.


Awards and Judging

Up to $25,000 in total prize money will be awarded to student and professional winners.

Entries are judged on the presentation board highlighting the project and any supplementary documentation. A separate review panel will convene to jury the technical components, which will result in a Technical Evaluation provided to the Jury. The Jury will determine the winners from all submissions. The Technical Evaluation is not the sole criterion on which entries will be judged but acts as a complement to the overall project design evaluation.

Entries are weighed individually, not in competition with others. Jury decisions will be based solely on the materials submitted. Criteria include quality of design, resolution of the program or idea, innovation, thoughtfulness, and technique.

Winners will be announced on March 2, 2018 at 10:00 AM PST at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies in  Tiburon, CA  Entrants are invited to attend this public announcement by the Architecture at Zero jurors.  Please RSVP to: info@architectureatzero.com.



The registration deadline is January 10, 2018 at 1:00 PM PST and the submission deadline is January 30, 2018 at 1:00 pm PST. Students must complete the registration form.

Please note that the Architecture at Zero competition uses an electronic registration process. If you are submitting multiple projects, you will need to register each project separately.

All submissions shall become the property of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), which reserves the right to exhibit and reproduce any of the submissions. By submitting a project, the entrant agrees to all Terms and Conditions outlined in the Architecture at Zero Terms and Conditions.  In any public use of the submissions, credit will be given to the design team. All submissions are final.



Representatives from San Francisco State University and PG&E will lead a tour of the competition site on September 30, 2017 at 10:00 AM.  This session will be filmed and questions and answers posted on the website for those unable to attend in person.

To attend:  Please confirm your attendance via RSVP to: info@architectureatzero.com

Address: 3150 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, CA

Directions:  http://rtc.sfsu.edu/directions.htm

GPS is not always accurate so be sure to watch for the correct street address.

Deer and bicyclists are are plentiful on Paradise Drive so please drive cautiously.

Once you arrive at the address, drive to the bottom of the hill and park in the large tarmac area. We will meet in the atrium of the main research building,  Building 36. 

Wear sturdy shoes.

The tour will take approximately 60 minutes.




Competition Planning Team

Peter Turnbull - Principal Program Manager, Zero Net Energy, PG&E

Can Anbarlilar - Project Manager, Zero Net Energy, PG&E

Margie O’Driscoll - Principal, MargieODriscoll.com

Geraldine O’Brien - Principal

Anna LaRue - Principal, Resource Refocus LLC (consultant to PG&E)

Margaret Pigman - Technical Consultant, Resource Refocus LLC (consultant to PG&E)

Nicki Dennis Stephens, Hon. AIACC - Chief Operating Officer, AIACC

Cam Pietralunga - Web/Graphics Designer, AIACC

Jill Anthes - Executive Director of Community Planning and Design, SFSU

Karina Nielsen - Director, Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies


Jill Anthes, Executive Director of Community Planning and Design, SFSU

Karina Nielsen, Director, Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies


Photo Credits

Photos courtesy of Wim Kimmerer, Margie O’Driscoll and the competition planning team.