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Transforming a neglected industrial block into a livable neighborhood: SOJO Commons.

A new paradigm for San Antonio.
Building on the success of the highly curated Pearl District.
Brick masonry, steel, and galvanized Victorian metal shingles.
Stoop-served entries and front gardens.
2nd floor living spaces connect visually to the street via a half-down landing.
Traditional rowhouse typology versus infill model for southern car-centric cities.
Designed for maximum flexibility.
Great streets are made of this.

According to the National League of Cities (NLC, Washington D.C.), “A 15-minute city enables residents to access most daily amenities within a 15 to 20-minute walk, bike or other mode of transportation from any point in a city, town or village regardless of size.” Responding to the imperative for a 15-minute city, this regional adaptation of the traditional rowhouse typology transforms an industrial streetscape into a place for people.

Like most mid-sized American cities, San Antonio is experiencing sustained growth, interest in walkable neighborhoods, and a need to address the carbon imperative. In response, this project introduces a typology to San Antonio that is a livable, familiar, and desirable alternative to sprawling single-family developments. As redevelopment expands outward from the Pearl District, new live, work, and play options within a 15-minute walk are being generated every day. In addition to being low-maintenance and significantly more energy-efficient than a stand-alone single-family home, the floor plans are highly adaptable with the ability to utilize ground-floor space as a home office, for aging parents or adult children still at home, or as an income generator.

SOJO Urban Development
San Antonio, Texas
137,368 SF / 27 units
Completed 2020

Building on the success of the Pearl District, the project establishes context.

The Pearl District is a transformational redevelopment of a 22-acre historic brewery into a mixed-use district and culinary destination north of downtown San Antonio which has catalyzed redevelopment of the underutilized industrial area surrounding it into a new neighborhood. The lack of any sort of contextual consistency in the surrounding neighborhood presented an opportunity to redefine its fundamental character. A series of rowhouses does just that by recognizing the need for a robust and active public realm that augments the people-centric Pearl redevelopment.

The project creates new circulation patterns and employs a material palette of brick, stucco, steel, and Victorian metal shingles which echoes nearby historic warehouse structures and more recent interventions.
Basements are unnecessary in the South Texas region because the ground doesn’t freeze, and they are very expensive. Garages, however, are indispensable. The ground-floor garage requirement means the primary living area is on the second floor of each unit rather than being above a half-down basement as is common in the traditional row house typology. To resolve this set of issues, foyer entries are employed at the open stair landings halfway up from the sidewalk. The intermediate entry creates a direct visual and personal connection between the living spaces and the public realm.

Awarded: AIA San Antonio | 2023 Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN): Multifamily Structure Category

This project was an opportunity to show that high density development makes for great streets and neighborhoods.

Jim Bailey, AIA

Project Team


Structural, Phase I | RSCR, Inc.
Structural, Phase II | Sterling Engineering
MEP | KJ Engineering
Civil, Phase I | IDS Engineering Group
Civil, Phase II | Cude Engineers
Landscape, Phase I | Bury + Partners
Landscape, Phase II | Rialto Studio

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