David Baker Architects

Pensione Esperanza

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As the sun sets, Esperanza starts to glow.

Pensione Esperanza is a 109 unit single-room-occupancy hotel designed to house low income individuals, including many of San Jose’s part-time and full-time hourly wage workers. Located on the edge of the city’s central downtown district, the three-story building redefines its location as urban, creating a continuous edge along Bird Avenue, a major commercial boulevard. This frontage element is clad in cement plaster and galvanized metal and topped with a reclaimed neon sign from a car dealership. The two levels of housing top street-front retail spaces.

Main entrance at the corner of Bird and Columbia avenues.

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Looking across Bird Avenue, the western side offers direct street access to the community room.

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Site plan.

The courtyard in 2017. Image: David Baker Architects

Typical micro-unit plan. Image: David Baker Architects

A standard 260 square foot unit.


Best Affordable Design Award
Residential Architecture Awards
Builder's Choice Affordable Award
Builder's Magazine and National Association of Home Builders
Tax Credit Excellence Honorable Mention for Metropolitan and Urban Housing
Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition

project details


Affordable Housing, All Projects, Micro-Units


San Jose, California


Catholic Charities


David Baker Architects

Structural Engineer

Tipping Mar + Associates


Barry Swenson Builders


Brian Rose



project data
Pensione Esperanza
598 Columbia Avenue
San Jose, California
Completed 1999
number of units
studio 110
total 110
density ratios
project sf 43,000
site sf 40,511
acres 0.9
total bedrooms 110
bedrooms/acre 118
units/acre 118
total 44
spaces/unit 0.4
type surface