Projects / Multifamily      Portland, Maine

Bayside Anchor


  • Certified Passive House
  • Lowering the Cost of Housing Competition Winner
  • AIA New England Citation Award
  • PHIUS Awards - Best Affordable Housing


  • Decor Maine
  • Christian Science Monitor
  • Green & Healthy Maine Homes

Project Team


The challenge: Bring 45 new affordable homes to Portland, Maine at a time when high rents and 1% vacancy rates have created a city-wide housing crisis. The building must be a best-in-class housing development that models sustainability, guarantees attainability for low-income residents, and serves as a community hub.

In 2013, Kaplan Thompson Architects partnered with the Portland Housing Authority, Avesta Housing, and Wright-Ryan Construction to win the national Lowering the Cost of Housing design competition, sponsored by Deutsche Bank and Enterprise Community Partners. The team was the only national winner, awarded for design innovation that prioritized energy efficiency, cost-effective building technologies, and equitable urban development.


Bayside Anchor is a deeply sustainable, socially and technically innovative project located in urban Portland. The ambitious model project is the first new Portland Housing Authority building to be constructed in 40 years.

The project was built to the PHIUS+ Passive House standard for only $142 per square foot in 2016, which is 20% less than the average cost for similar construction in Portland. Residents can count on miniscule heating bills in Maine’s cold winters for the life of the building, thanks to careful integration of a continuously-operating fresh air ventilation system and a meticulously air-sealed building enclosure that will meet the most stringent global standard available (0.05 CFM50 or 0.37 ACH50!). The building will meet or exceed Passive House standards thanks to detailed planning for its insulation, airtightness, solar gains, and high-performance windows and doors.

Perhaps most importantly, Bayside Anchor is a vital social catalyst for the neighborhood, a place that is as beautiful in design as it is sustainable and affordable. The building includes artist-commissioned murals, a community police station, Housing Authority offices, and a Head Start Classroom on the ground floor, serving as a true anchor to the community.


  • Year Completed

  • Cost

  • Gross Floor Area

    38500 sq ft
  • Units

  • Partners

    Wright-Ryan Construction
    Carroll Associates Landscape Architects
    Ransom Consulting Engineers and Scientists
    Becker Structural Engineers
    Ripcord Engineering

Sustainability Achievements


  • Walkable location
  • Near public transportation
  • Sustainable landscape
  • Native plantings
  • Bike racks onsite
  • Ecological Stormwater Management
  • Resilient landscape design


  • Designed for durability
  • Designed for low maintenance


  • Optimized for daylighting
  • Fresh air ventilation system for indoor air quality
  • Visual connection to the outdoors
  • Low-VOC finishes
  • Formaldehyde-free building


  • Low-flow fixtures
  • Hot water on-demand recirculation system
  • Landscaping requires little water


  • Uses renewable energy systems – 50 kW solar
  • Predicted EUI = 11
  • R-5 windows
  • R-34 walls
  • R-50 roof
  • R-16 slab
  • PHIUS+ Certified
  • Has an integrated energy monitoring system
  • Fresh air ventilation system with heat recovery
  • Super-insulated
  • Triple-glazed windows
  • High Quality Air-tight construction: .037 ACH50