Q: In the competition program it is not mentioned that Bayside Visitor's Center should be limited to one story, my interpretation was that it could be multi-story building but in the FAQ it is explicitly identified as a single-story building (answer to the fifth question at the current FAQ page). Could you please confirm or would it be confused with the Science on the Bay building which is described as a single story building in the competition program.

A: We provide guide lines which are open to interpretation. There is no objection to a 2-story structure as long as it works with the setting, doesn’t block important views, and meets all energy and accessibility requirements.

 Q: Is drone photography is allowed?

A: No, drones cannot be flown over the RTC site.

 Q: I was wondering about the placement of the wet lab. I looked up to the program list the wet lab should be located in the building 1 (wayside visitors center)? For a competition, can I design the wet lab inside building 2 because it is more convenient for the water tank and plumbing water from the bay?

A: As this is a design competition so you can place any building or components anywhere inside the design challenge area, just make sure you explain your rationale in your narrative.

 Q: Is the data for the existing solar array available publicly somewhere?

 A: This information is not available.

 Q:  if the student is not English-speaking, in what form should he provide the documents? Does he need to provide a copy of certificate from the place of study in English, or attach a copy of the student ID (not in English) will be enough?

A: A copy of your student ID not in English will be enough.

 Q: We are a team made up of professionals and students, how should we register?

 A: You need to register as a professional team.

Q: How many people are expected to visit the center? 

A: 50-200 people per day

Q: What will be the peak visitation hours? 

A: 10am to 4pm

Q: Is there a BCDC easement crossing over the site? What are the easements pertinent to the site?

A: The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) is a California state planning and regulatory agency with regional authority over the San Francisco Bay, the Bay’s shoreline band (within 100 feet of the shore), and the Suisun Marsh. Please see their web site (http://www.bcdc.ca.gov/) and the Bay Plan (http://www.bcdc.ca.gov/plans/sfbay_plan.html) for additional information. The site is specifically referenced in the Bay Plan in Plan Map 4 for Central Bay North.

Q: Do new proposed structures for bay-side visitor center and aquatic education have to be in the same location of the existing structures or could they be located elsewhere in the design challenge area?

A: They can be located anywhere in the design challenge area.

Q:.Is there height limit for the bay-side visitor's center?

A: There is none specified but the new design should be single story and fit in with the environment.

Q Do we need to propose changes, removal or relocation etc..., to the other structure outside of the design challenge area?
A: No but you can if its part of your overall design

Q: Would it be ok to propose cutting some of the trees from the site?
A: Yes but given the nature of this site I would make sure to replace them and explain why you are removing them in your narrative

Q: How far does the water drop between high and low tide?

A: Please refer to the  tide chart for Tiburon.


Q: Is  there a deadline for the submission of questions or it is possible to contact you until the deadline of the competition itself?

A: You can ask questions right until the deadline.  However, we advise you not to wait since it can sometimes take several days for us to provide a thorough answer- and we can’t guarantee timely answers to questions submitted less than 1 week from the deadline.

Q: Can include designs for the shoreline and wharf restoration since it isn't mentioned in the program?

A: As long as you cover the requirements in the competition brief you are free to include additional designs for the shoreline or wharf.

Q: Which building is to be preserved?

 A: We didn’t specify. We left this for the design team to decide, but they can only choose to keep one.

Q: Can I provide a model of the site for the competition?

A: No.  All requirements must be submitted digitally.

Q: We have found that the advertised scales on the drawings provided do not seem to correspond with the measured dimensions on google?

A: The PDFs provided are 1” = 100 ‘ and 1” = 300’ when printed at 11x17. There is no need to check dimensions on google as there is a CAD file of the site in the drawings package. The drawings are as accurate as possible.

Q: Where ca I find the functionality of each of the existing structures?

A: Please remember most of the existing buildings on the project site are slated for demolition due to their poor condition. However, one building may be conserved for its historic value (see map for details). For the purposes of the competition, design teams should plan on new construction, rather than renovation, to meet the design program. Programs currently in any existing buildings within the design area will be relocated elsewhere on site. The functions of the buildings are:


Building 11 will be demolished.

Building 36 will continue to be a university research center with an active graduate program, focused on interdisciplinary marine and estuarine science.  We intend to add capacity through interior renovation in the near future

Building 86 is currently storage, but is a building we’d consider for future expansion of the research and education center.

Building 20 is our guest house (8 bedrooms) for visiting scientists and resident student assistants – no change planned.

Building 74 is storage for facilities – future use is uncertain.  

Building 39 has classrooms and offices – no change planned.

Building 53 is our conference center – no change planned.

Building  49 & 50 will being retrofitted and brought up to code in the next three years – future uses are not yet determined. Current programs and functions might be relocated elsewhere on the site.

Q:  As described in the program (page 4, section About the site) which is the “north warehouse” that was used to reel cables for the Golden Gate Bridge?

A: It no longer exists. It was destroyed in a landslide decades ago.  

Q:  Since the two new buildings need to be grid-tied, is it possible that one of the two buildings produces much more energy than the other one? Can we consider geothermal solutions, even though they are not mentioned in the program?

A: Yes, it is possible that one building will produce more energy. You can consider geothermal solutions as long as you demonstrate the submitted design solutions have a reasonable expectation of approaching a zero net energy goal.

Q: I don't see any mention of parking.  How many car and bus parking spaces are needed?

A: There is plenty of visitor parking on the large tarmac adjacent to the project site. Immediately adjacent to the visitors center there should be a limited number of staff parking (3 spots), a loading area (for 2 delivery trucks/vans/cars) and an appropriate number of ADA parking spots (2 standard handicap spaces and 1 handicap van space.)

Q: Will the lunch room have any food prepared, or is the space only for eating vending food and lunch bags?

A: There should be some food prep space. Enough to provide some support a for a catered event in the outside picnic area as well as light food prep by staff for their lunches.

Q: There is mention of (1) 200 gallon touch tank.  Large 300 gallon and small 75 gallon tanks.  How many large and small tanks?

A: 1 shallow touch tank (200 gallons)

2 tall display tanks ( 30 gallons each)

3 small display tanks (75 gallons each)

And 3-5 holding tanks (50 - 100 gallons) for the exhibit support area. Some flexibility will be needed in this area depending on exhibits.

Also of note, we already have a permit to draw in bay water for the research labs, so access to natural waters for the aquaria is close at hand.

Q: I have graduated in bachelors of architecture in May 2017 and currently I'm not practicing as architect since I don't have my licence,  what category should I register in?

A: If you graduated in 2017 you are eligible to register as a student.

Q: On page 3 of the PDF, it had listed some specifications for each of the two buildings, such as square footage requirements. I wanted to know if those were suggestions or if those were requirements. For example, for my particular design, it would benefit the users of the building to have two restrooms, but the specifications only accounted for one restrooms. Could I add in another set of restrooms for my project?

A: You can add another set of restrooms but please explain in the supplementary documentation narrative why you are doing so.

Q: The excerpt on page 6 of the PDF states, "The narrative should clearly outline and summarize the project’s context and goals. This text should be a high level summary. If you would like to include an extended project brief or explanations of assumptions and methodology, please include them in the supplementary documentation. This summary should not exceed 250 words." Does the 250 word limit apply to the extended project narrative?

A: No, the 250 word limit is just for the design board. 

Design Challenge

1. Q: I am working on the ZNE project in another location. Can I submit this project?

A: No, all entries must address the competition brief and be specific to the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies site.

2. Q: Is it okay to make a concept plan that stretches over the boundaries of the site?

A: Please limit the concept plans to the defined competition site.

Technical Information

1. Q: How much energy calculation do I need to do? Do I need an engineer to help me with the technical side of the competition?

A: While we encourage entrants to work with students or professionals in other disciplines, entrants are not required to have the help of engineers when designing their projects. We suggest that entrants challenge themselves to do as much calculation as possible but recognize that the level of comfort with energy modeling and performance documentation will vary greatly from entrant to entrant. The minimum requirements are described in the Competition Program document.

2. Q: How should the square footage be measured (i.e. square footage of conditioned space, programmed space, square footage of the site, etc)?

A: Please use conditioned floor area.

Eligibility and Submittals

1. Q: I want to enter the competition as part of a team. Is this allowed? How do I indicate this in my entry?

A: You are allowed and encouraged to enter as a team. Please indicate the names of your team members in the appropriate field on the Design Team Spreadsheet Form. The information on this form will be used to list all collaborators will be credited in the case of an award.

2. Q: As a faculty member at a university, I am planning to have student teams register in the student category. How should these faculty or academic consultants be recognized with the competition entry?

A: Faculty members or others in the academic community assisting student teams should be listed as consultants to the project, rather than as teammates.

3. Q. Are past winners eligible to apply?

A. Yes.

4. Q: I am no longer a full-time student, but graduated this year and am currently unemployed. Can I still enter?

A: Yes, as long as you have proof that you were a full-time student within or after the 2016 calendar year.

5. Q: I am taking time off from grad school to work at a startup - am I still eligible to participate in this contest?

A: Yes, the competition is open to everyone.

6. Q: Our lead designer for our team is a registered Architect in another state. Is there any requirement to have a California licensed architect?

A: No license is required.

7. Q: Is the graphic of the board layout an example or is it required to follow the exact layout shown, including title block?

A: You are required to follow the board layout graphic when formatting your submissions. This includes all text featured on the graphic example as well. However, if you would like to add an additional drawing or rendering to a specific section of the competition board (and it is specific in nature to the corresponding section), you may do so.

8. Q: How should I fill out the work information section on the registration page as an individual rather than as a company?

A: Simply fill in the required fields as if you are the company representative. This information is for registration purposes only.

9. Q: By registering for the competition will I receive additional information needed to complete the requirements of the competition?

A: No. All necessary information to complete the competition requirements can be found on the website. We will send out any updates and reminders about deadlines.

10. Q: I can’t find the instructions for submitting my files. How do I submit my entry?

A. All entrants will be required to create a username to log on to the registration and submission page. Full submission instructions are detailed there. If you lose your username please email:info@architectureatzero.com