It takes a village to raise a freshman.

After a long delay, caused by necessary blueprint changes, Housing and Residential Services is building a large series of residence halls, called Manzanita Village, on the bluff adjacent to San Rafael Hall.

The entire village, which will take up a total of 217,361 square feet, is scheduled for completion in September 2002. The buildings were originally slated for graduate student occupation, but due to the increased need for on-campushousing, HRS decided to place undergraduates in the new halls.

“We want to move as close as possible to 35 percent of undergraduate students living on campus. We’re currently at about 21 percent,” Residence Halls Association Director Wilfred Brown said.

The complex will house a total of 800 students and at least 17 resident assistants.

“The Manzanita Village project represents a unique design opportunity to provide needed additional student housing on an extraordinary site overlooking the Pacific Ocean,” said Michael Holliday, principal architect for Designarc, the firm that handled the project.

Manzanita Village will be comprised of 11 three-story houses and five four-story houses that will provide living space for 45 to 63 students each. It will have 160 handicap-accessible rooms, 54 of which will be double occupancy, and each house will have a laundry room, kitchen and study lounge, as well as courtyard and lawn areas.

“Each residential structure has been designed to create a series of unique neighborhoods, promoting interaction, identity, and fostering a sense of community,” Holliday said.

Along with the new residence halls, the village will have an 11,180 square-foot resource center and an 8,188 square-foot multipurpose center. As part of the project, Carrillo Dining Commons is also being remodeled to accommodate more students. The improved structure will double its seating capacity from 300 to 600, change the service to “restaurant style” and should re-open in the spring.

A new boardwalk along the bluff, complete with viewing terraces and a new bikepath to the Lagoon trail, are also being constructed on the site. These amenities, along with the new building plan, will allow students and community members to pass through the area without disturbing the fragile ecosystem, according to Brown.

“The buildings have been cited to protect and preserve existing Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas [ESHA] while still allowing students the opportunity to enjoy the promontory vistas,” Holliday said.

Fragile ecosystems almost undid the village. During the first planning session the project had to be halted and completely redesigned when distance requirements concerning area wetlands were brought to the University’s attention.

“In original planning, we encountered some wetlands and the California Coastal Commission required us to do some redesign,” HRS resource planning coordinator Chuck Haines said. “We’re [now] complying completely with the Coastal Commission’s requirements for this project.”

The confusion occurred when planners drew designs in accordance with federal wetland-protection guidelines and failed to check state guidelines.

According to federal requirements, the site can be developed if the wetlands are relocated within the area, Brown said. However, the California Coastal Commission requires that the University maintain and protect all existing wetlands near the building site.

“Originally, the University proposed restoring wetlands on Lagoon Island because it would be better protected from bicyclists and other traffic,” UCSB Planning Director Tye Simpson said. “The CCC required that the University protect the existing wetlands.”

State guidelines require all building sites to be at least 100 feet from any area that meets the state’s definition of wetland, Brown said.

The Manzanita project was planned to promote sustainable and environmentally-sound design principles, said Holliday.

“The University has really tried to set a new standard for student housing with the design of this project,” he said, “and we are very excited about the end result.”