Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital - 16 Years in the Making

We are excited to announce that Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is now complete! After 16 years of passionate effort, this remarkably beautiful campus has completed all six phases of construction. Built to bring ease and comfort to its patients, this campus is in keeping with the gorgeous Santa Barbara Spanish Colonial architectural style, incorporating the red clay tile roofs and bright white stucco finishes common in the area. This $820 million effort includes several pavilions housing nursing towers, a new PICU and NICU, and a diagnostic and treatment facility. The inpatient pavilions and recovery rooms are connected to treatment facilities by the “River of Life,” a water feature that traverses the courtyard and highlights the healing garden in the middle of the campus. This water feature flows in the valley created by the buildings, over a basement floor, to assist in patient recovery.

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After the Northridge Earthquake and the passage of Senate Bill 1953, Cottage Health began to review their aging building stock at their main Santa Barbara campus location nestled next to Oak Park, and made a bold decision to overhaul almost the entire site to meet these new hospital regulations. In this massive undertaking, the hospital administration has created a brand new facility incorporating all of the recent knowledge gained in patient care to deliver a cutting edge facility to service the Central Coast.

Working together with hospital leadership and the architect LBL, now Perkins Eastman, a phased plan was conceived to aid the process of construction. These phases were intended to help keep this privately funded venture moving forward while allowing the hospital to remain open and provide service to patients during construction. 

  • The first phase was a new Central Utility Plant, which was required to upgrade the utility infrastructure to handle the load of the new facilities.
  • The next phase included two patient pavilions and the Diagnostic and Treatment pavilions. The old patient and diagnostic and treatment programs were moved into this new portion of the hospital. 
  • Following the completion of the new buildings, we began the demolition of the existing hospital buildings.
  • Phase 6, the final phase of construction, comprised one additional in-patient pavilion and the PICU/NICU Children’s pavilion.


KPFF stayed on through-out all phases of the project to assist the general contractor, McCarthy Building Companies, with shoring design, demolition sequences of the existing buildings and interim building designs to keep the project on track and make the site ready for all phases of construction.

The best part of this project was creating long lasting relationships with our partners at Cottage Health as well as the architecture firm LBL, now Perkins Eastman, and the general contractor, McCarthy Building Companies. The design and construction team was instrumental in collaborating on this long term effort that was well worth the wait. Over the past 16 years, more than 30 of our staff members, engineers and drafting professionals have put in approximately 100,000 hours of work towards the design and construction of this campus. We are proud to have partnered with great hospital leadership with a visionary goal.

The 25th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake has given us some time to reflect on the changes that have helped shaped California and our attitude towards design and construction. Building codes change with every new seismic event, and we as a profession adjust to meet the demands set forth by these new parameters. However, the main driver in construction excellence comes from the health systems themselves, adapting and embracing change to deliver better patient experiences and outcomes, manifested in the built environment. As a standard bearer for resiliency, healthcare systems are at the forefront of sustainable design and construction. By delivering this hospital, this team has delivered on the hope and goals Cottage Health had at the beginning of this endeavor, and with trust and hard work their faith paid off. Cottage Health also offers healthcare services at their other locations in Santa Ynez and the Goleta Valley.

View a time lapse of construction video for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital here.

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