David Baker Architects

Curran House

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Curran House faces Taylor Street in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Image: Brian Rose.

Affordable Family Housing


When most people think of the Tenderloin of San Francisco they don't think of families. This district is the home for many economically struggling families. Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation and the SF Mayor's Office of Housing have combined to develop Curran House, very high density -- 223 large units per acre -- housing for this need.

View from across Taylor Street. Image: Brian Rose.

Inside Curran House Video


We visited Curran House with photographer Bill Owens to meet the families and community of this affordable housing building in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood.


Inside Curran House from Db+P, Architects on Vimeo.

Lobby area sketch by David Baker.

Across the lobby: views into the community room and decompression garden. Image: Brian Rose.

The glass garage-style door at the back of the lobby rolls up to create a large open-air gathering space. Image: Marion Brenner.

Parking Variance


Curran House has no on-site automobile parking, which seems like a crazy idea in the modern USA, but made sense here because: most of the residents can't afford a car, the site has excellent public transit connections, and we were able to provide additional units, gardens, common space for supportive services, neighborhood-serving retail, and office space for TNDC. Additionally, providing parking minimums would have added several million dollars to the construction cost, while ample monthly parking is available for lease in the immediate neighborhood at reasonable rates.

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Roof top plan. Image: David Baker Architects



The 8th level roof hosts urban agriculture planters that residents use to grow food for themselves and their families. The laundry room looks out on this space.

Rooftop garden where residents tend the plots. Image: Brian Rose.

Resident tending one of the rooftop garden plots. Image: Brian Rose.

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Typical upper floor plan. Image: David Baker Architects

Apartment unit. Image: Brian Rose.

Contextual Design

Blending the historic and urban typology, Curran House respects the existing National Historic Registry eligible District while being a fresh building that is of it's own time. It respects the "urban street edge" and activates that edge with pedestrian oriented retail space.

Incredible guy.

Curran in context: the view from Turk Street. Image: Brian Rose.

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Plan of the ground level. Image: David Baker Architects

David Baker + Partners Architects
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Positive reinforcement.

Food bank delivery awaiting the residents.

Community room with view to the decompression garden. Image: Brian Rose.

The entry court's palm tree. Image: Marion Brenner.

Ground floor courtyard with decompression garden. Image: Brian Rose.

Aerial view of garden. Image: Emily Rylander.

Benches and bamboo ring a meditation fountain. Image: Marion Brenner.

Seating in decompression garden.

Private balconies give a breath of fresh air.

Citrus trees getting a start in the rooftop community space. Image: Brian Rose.

Rooftop planter garden. Image: Brian Rose.

Resident Fidel Cazares tends his rooftop plot. Image: Marion Brenner.

David Baker checks out the rooftop garden plots at Curran House.

Curran House elevation sketch by David Baker.

Hand-drawn Taylor Street elevation by David Baker.

Business as usual at Chop it Up, Curran House's resident-owned barber shop.

Reception desk.

A busy day at the barbershop, Chop It Up.


2008 Design Award for Architecture
California Council, American Institute of Architects
Gold Nugget Award of Merit—Best Affordable Project over 40/Units per Acre
Pacific Coast Builders Conference
National Honor Award
American Society of Landscape Architects
Citation Award—Excellence in Architecture
San Francisco Chapter, American Institute of Architects
2006 Semi-Finalist
I. Donald Terner Prize for Innovation and Leadership in Affordable Housing
National Grand Award—Affordable Housing
Residential Architect Magazine
Builder's Choice Special Focus Award—Urban Garden
Builder's Magazine


Making Less Space for Cars, More Space for People
Cows Grazing in the Rumpus Room
Iconoclast of Design
Dwell Blog: Curran House
Vitamin C
Gems of the City: A List of S.F.'s Top 25
Infill Solutions

endorsed by:

Housing Action Coalition
Urban Ecology
City Carshare
Walk San Francisco

project details


Affordable Housing, All Projects, Apartments, Mid-Rise Housing, Mixed-Use, San Francisco, Tall


San Francisco, California

Nonprofit Housing Developer

Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation


David Baker Architects

Associate Architect

Gelfand Partners Architects

Landscape Architect

Andrea Cochran Landscape Architects

Structural Engineer

Structural Design Engineers

Geotech Engineer

Treadwell + Rollo

Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer

Tommy Siu + Associates


Cahill Contractors



project data
Curran House 20022
145 Taylor Street
San Francisco, California
completed 2005
number of units
studio 14
1 bedroom 15
2 bedroom 14
3 bedroom 24
total 67
retail sf 1,381
density ratios
project sf 83,690
site sf 12,970
acres 0.3
total bedrooms 129
bedrooms/acre 435
units/acre 223