University of California, Santa Barbara, San Joaquin Apartments and Precinct Improvements

SOM led a team in developing the master plan for housing on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus. Built around an existing residence hall, the project introduces apartment-style housing for more than 1,000 students, along with staff and faculty residences, dining commons, a convenience store, and other amenities.

Master Plan

The site is divided into three precincts, threaded by pedestrian and bicycle paths. Plazas, recreational facilities, and courtyard gardens are key components designed to enhance student life. These open and communal areas also create a sense of arrival near clusters of housing. The new residences are only a 10-minute off-street bike ride from the middle of campus and conveniently located near bus lines.

SOM worked together with three other architecture firms to design the various residences and dining commons—a collaborative approach that infuses the project with architectural diversity. SOM designed Tenaya Towers, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects and Kevin Daly Architects designed additional residential complexes, and Kieran Timberlake designed the dining commons.

Tenaya Towers

Tenaya Towers contain student housing and a convenience store that serves the university and adjacent community. Oriented east to west, the two parallel, six-story buildings, totaling 105,000 square feet, define a central plaza. Living areas open onto balconies that overlook the plaza, while bedrooms are situated away from outdoor activity. Study lounges and recreation rooms are centrally located to support academic and social life.

Perforated screens on the building facades provide shading, help keep the buildings cool, and serve as protective barriers. Larger openings in the screens enhance daylighting and views. Additional screens on operable windows in bedrooms and study lounges provide shading and act as guardrails for each unit. A freestanding pavilion in the plaza contains a recreation room and study lounge for students.

Sustainable Design

Sensitive to the natural environment, the site plan is targeting LEED® Gold certification for Neighborhood Development. Its sustainable features include a stormwater management system with bioswales, bio-retention and mechanical filters to protect adjacent wetlands, and ground cover with drought-tolerant plants.

Certified LEED® Platinum, Tenaya Towers feature natural ventilation, rooftop solar hot water collectors, and greywater use. The building envelopes are carefully designed to maximize thermal performance, contributing to energy consumption that is 20 percent below California’s Title 24 baseline. The efficient use of building materials also helped reduce the project’s carbon footprint.