UCSB_sciencesEncompassing nearly 1,000 acres along the California coastline, the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. But UCSB’s offerings go far beyond its scenery. The university also has Nobel Prize winners on its faculty and top research centers in science and technology. Biologists take a leading role in life science research at every level – from molecules and therapeutics to ecosystems and the environment. Perhaps for these reasons, the university’s number of applicants has doubled in the past decade. And with increasing numbers of students, the university is expanding its existing classroom/laboratory space to support the life science curriculum.

Construction on UCSB’s new Life Sciences and Technology building began in 2002 and opened for classes in 2006. The high-tech facility provides the technological tools and state-of-the-art laboratories necessary for modern research in the biological sciences. The new building houses top-quality research and instructional facilities for the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and for the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology.

The four-level structure includes 34 laboratories and one 151-seat auditorium-style classroom/lecture hall. In addition, more than 75 offices as well as other support and service rooms are in the building.

The Life Sciences and Technology building has a concrete frame and Class “A” architectural cast-in-place concrete walls and columns. The cast-in-place architectural concrete shear walls measure 18-inches thick and columns measure 18-by-18-inches to 24 by-24-inches with a 24-inch diameter. Typical bays measure 21-by-20-feet. The majority of decks are one-way steel-pan-formed beam and slabs with heavy moment girders.

Although not on track as a LEED-certified structure, the building features several sustainable-construction features. A 175-foot-wide-by-55-foot tall metal sunshade on the facility’s southern façade helps provide protection from the afternoon sun. The mat foundation has a 50 percent fly ash ratio, with a cement-to-fly ash ratio of 1:1. The 3 foot 6 inch deep mat foundation totals 3,022 cubic yards and was placed in three pours.

A concrete frame provides numerous advantages to the construction of the Life Sciences and Technology Building. First, concrete helps achieve the architect’s vision of using the exposed concrete material as the final architectural element. The exposed concrete surface requires no additional finish for the building. A concrete frame for this structure, which offers numerous indoor-outdoor spaces and natural ventilation, helps control the day to night time temperature swings and provides energy savings to the owner. Due to certain equipment this lab facility must house, the building has very strict vibration criteria which concrete meets since it aids vibration control.


University of California, Santa Barbara

NBBJ Architecture Design Planning, San Francisco, California

Structural Engineer:
Ove Arup & Partners California Ltd., San Francisco, California

General Contractor:
Soltek Pacific, San Diego, California

Concrete Contractor:
Morley Construction Company, Santa Monica, California

Ready-Mix Supplier:
Vulcan Materials Company, Oxnard, California

Rebar & Rebar Detailer:
Regional Steel Corporation, Claremont, California