UC Santa Barbara, San Joaquin Villages, Tenaya Towers

Santa Barbara, CA, USA

The Tenaya Towers project is one part of the larger San Joaquin Development project which provides new on-campus housing for 1,000 students, additional housing for faculty and staff, and student amenities, all displacing the surface parking lots around the existing Santa Catalina Residence Hall.

The two Tenaya Towers include 90,000ft2 of housing including 58 apartments and roof top terraces. The six-story buildings are oriented in the east west direction, parallel one another, defining a shared urban plaza as the western gateway to the site. The buildings accommodate a convenient store serving the student population and adjacent community as well as shared student laundry pavilion.


The Buro Happold team needed to carefully consider the design to incorporate sustainable strategies. With a target of achieving a LEED Platinum certification for the towers as well as the rest of the complex, we needed to implement a number of energy efficient solutions.

We provided integrated engineering services for the entire project that incorporates a number of sustainable strategies throughout.

UCSB San Joaquin Villages Tenaya Towers
The six story accommodation towers overlook the bustling central plaza and communal spaces. Image: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP | Bruce Damonte, 2018. All rights reserved.


Municipal recycled water is treated and conveyed to the entire project site, providing 100% of the site’s annual irrigation needs with 2,722,934 gallons of non-potable water. A total 14 tons of waste were diverted from the landfill. Beyond reduction in energy and water consumption, the project’s health-focused living spaces and amenities were designed with the goals of reducing embodied and operational carbon and protecting and restoring the surrounding wetlands ecosystem.

UCSB San Joaquin Villages Tenaya Towers
Image: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP | Bruce Damonte, 2018. All rights reserved.


The design team’s drive to meet UC Santa Barbara’s goals led the project to achieve LEED Platinum for all new buildings, and a pending Gold Certification for LEED Neighborhood Development, the first in the University of California System.


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