Santa Barbara Architectural and Construction Project

The Bella Riviera Project

Type: Wood Framed; Plaster and Wood Siding; Preserved Spanish Roof Tiles

The Bella Riviera project is a six acre site in the foothills of the Santa Barbara Riviera neighborhood. It was originally the campus of the Saint Francis Hospital that had served the community since the early 1900s.

Cottage Health Systems needed to provide affordable housing for its employees who work in Santa Barbara. When they purchased the property they closed the hospital and cleared the site to make way for a condominium project consisting of 115 units: 85 were designated as affordable while 30 were sold at current market rates.

The design of the buildings is a combination of styles intended to reflect the eclectic nature of the surrounding “bungalow” neighborhood: Spanish, Mediterranean, and Green & Green Bungalows. Three different Santa Barbara architects including Burke Design had input into the design process.

Once the site was cleared grading began for the new units. There were many challenges along the way. Due to the property’s location in the foothills, the site turned out to be very rocky and required the removal of over 150 tons of rocks and boulders. Today you can see many of those boulders around town now since they were recycled by local landscapers to incorporate into their landscape designs.

The buildings are wood framed with a combination of plaster and wood siding on the walls and Spanish tile and asphalt shingles on the roofs. Interestingly the original Spanish clay tile from the original St. Francis Hospital Buildings were mostly preserved and re-used in the new construction. The recycling of the roof tile is one small example of the recycling and environmental considerations that were considered for the project.

There are large, underground water tanks to store storm water runoff and all of the driveways on site contain pavers that allow water to percolate through and minimize storm water runoff and downstream flooding. Bella Riviera contributes less runoff downstream than the original St. Francis Hospital.

The housing units were constructed on top of two separate podium style parking structures. The slope of the hillside made it somewhat less challenging to engineer the construction of underground parking for over 200 cars.


Santa Barbara Architectural and Construction Project