Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA] - UCSB San Joaquin Student Housing
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UCSB San Joaquin Student Housing

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA]

Housing / Completed
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA]

LOHA’s seven student housing structures at the northern limit of the University of California, Santa Barbara, represent the firm’s interest in urban environments within a university context. Respecting the adjacent community’s scale and character, LOHA’s design comprises housing clusters characterized by an impermeable outward-facing edge and an activated campus-oriented edge. Stimulated by an undulating circulation system that weaves between the myriad social hubs incorporated within its buildings, the new housing advances the robust social and intellectual life of UCSB.

UCSB dormitories have typically pushed circulation to their exterior envelope, with an inert central courtyard accessible only from within the building. LOHA’s design reverts this.

The exterior edge that faces outward from campus will be passively “quiet” while the edge of the interior courtyard opens up to the campus and contains all building circulation, thus encouraging inter- and outer-housing movement.

Social hubs featuring various programs – reading rooms, gathering spaces, dining – are dispersed and “floated” above others to create a dynamic overlay. This inconsistency of spaces allows for varied student experiences and generates a healthy campus culture.

This project will join additional housing volumes and student facilities that make up UCSB’s 15-acre North Campus village master plan.

Every consideration was made to ensure this project’s sustainability and reduce its environmental impact in the years and decades to come. Passive design strategies and material choices resulted in a project that is more efficient and sustainable than standard new construction. In addition, the project reflects LOHA’s goal to take advantage of the natural environment and the ideal coastal climate of Santa Barbara, in influencing our design.

LEED Platinum, the UCSB San Joaquin project also advances the student housing model by integrating several sustainable strategies like natural ventilation, solar shading, bioswales, solar water heating, increased insulation, siting, and energy-efficient systems. The project is 20% over California's Title 24 requirements.

The effects of the Southern California sun and solar heat gain were minimized through several design and material decisions, including recessed windows, integral sunshades, and rooftop solar panels for hot water. To allow the maximum amount of natural light and natural ventilation, LOHA worked with Buro Happold to understand heat gain and losses throughout the project, resulting in buildings that require no cooling and have a very minimal heat load.

Operable windows and single loaded corridors expose two sides of all residences to outside light and air, maximizing natural air circulation and daylighting. The open courtyard also reduces the need for a climate controlled and artificially lit hallway. Extended sunshades at the south, west, and third floor walkway prevent the strongest sun from coming into the units at peak hours of the day.

Responding to the ongoing drought problem in California, the surrounding landscape was planted with drought-tolerant native plants. With a requirement to contain all rainwater on site, we worked with landscape architects to install bioswales which remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water.


 Santa Barbara
 Lorcan O'Herlihy (Principal-In-Charge), Donnie Schmidt (Project Director), Damian Possidente (Project Manager)
 Tang Chuenchomphu, Noelle White, Jessica Colangelo


Lorcan O'Herlihy, FAIA, is the founder and principal of Lorcan O' Herlihy Architects [LOHA]. Since LOHA's 1994 inception, it has engaged the complexities of the urban landscape, embracing the role of architecture as a catalyst of change. Lorcan’s practice is an exploration of the interaction between public and private spaces and an emphasis on social and civic connectivity.

Lorcan received an MA in Histories and Theories from the Architectural Association in London, with a dissertation on social connectivity and generative urban strategies. He has taught and lectured extensively, and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the USC.

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects has built over 75 projects across three continents. Work ranges in typology from institutional buildings to bus shelters, and from large-scale developments to single-family homes. LOHA has been published in over 20 countries and recognized with over 100 awards, including the 2010 AIA Los Angeles Firm of the Year.


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