Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Bowl

Santa Barbara Bowl
Santa Barbara, CA

Historic Restoration Award | Santa Barbara Beautiful
Honor Award | AIA Santa Barbara
Architecture Merit Award | United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT)
Michael Roberto
Peter Malinowski

Originally built in 1936 by the Federally-funded Works Progress Administration (WPA) program, this 4,500-seat outdoor amphitheater is located in a dramatic ravine overlooking Santa Barbara. It provides a full range of music performances, including classical, pop, country-western, blues, jazz and rock and roll. In the 1980’s, changing performance requirements, the impact of amplified sound and traffic and increased residential density surrounding the amphitheater led the County Parks Department to undertake a master plan to address potential changes. Blake Middleton FAIA of Handel Architects, in collaboration with Santa Barbara-based DesignARC Inc, were selected to develop a detailed master plan to address each of the major issues at the Bowl, and Mr. Middleton has led the design of each structure since 1993.

Since 1998, five of phases of work have been completed. These include the Stage Production Platform, earth stabilization and water management infrastructure, a new visitor’s pavilion (the McCaw Pavilion) and the new Stage Pavilion. In making these improvements, the design challenge was to preserve the rustic character of the site and its distinctive structures while transforming a dilapidated amphitheater complex into a modern performance venue. Original retaining walls were retained wherever possible and new stone facing was created from recovered on-site material.