By Jamie Le

Photo by Ana Simonovic

Isla Vista’s newest and biggest housing project, The LOOP, set to debut Fall 2012, combines eco-savvy design with architectural ingenuity and inspires to bring back the community in community housing.

“We envisioned a clean, new, refreshing place to live in IV that would set a standard for healthy student living,” said University of California Santa Barbara alumna and Marketing Director Alyssa Newman.

Newman is one of eight members who are current students and environmental studies graduates turning the vision into reality through partnerships with design experts at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and private developers Mesa Lane Partners.

Once completed, the 44,994 square-foot complex will house 48 semi-furnished residential units and boast an extensive list of green capabilities including skylines, rooftop solar panels, solar water heating and anti-leak fixtures to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent. Financial help stems from both private and public sources, including the Bank of the West, the Santa Barbara County’s Redevelopment Agency and the US Department of Energy.

“This project is a game changer for UC Santa Barbara and the building industry as a whole, ” said CEO and UCSB alumnus Neil Dipaola.

The LOOP aspires to be more than a changing face in the IV green scene; it extends the typical definition of sustainability to include participation from local businesses and student residents. The team surveyed UCSB students and staff pre-construction and fought for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, proving it is serious about community involvement.

Even more, the LOOP’s bottom floor will employ an 8,000 square-foot commercial space, set for a cupcake bakery and pizza restaurant. The building’s alternating colors and style is designed to look like an organically developed community, while the cinnabar-toned staccato centerpiece couples IV Theater across the street.

And while its construction might temporarily hinder car-driving customers from going to local businesses, the completed complex is expected to bump sales at surrounding eateries such as Pita Pit and Woodstock’s as it draws an influx of students into Downtown IV.

The LOOP also offers a revolutionary bed-by-bed approach to leasing units that allow individuals to be responsible for their own rent and ultimate flexibility in choosing units.

“The building will have a boutique hotel feel with different quirks about each room,” said UCSB alumna Chloe Kirk.

On top of swanky features like the room deck, outdoor gym, rooftop seating, flat screen televisions and high-top view of the IV neighborhood, the LOOP residents will also enjoy unique interior design and art installations that play up the contemporary feel.

Two-to six-bed units are now available for leasing, and judging from its price range, $850 to $1,530 a spot, the LOOP is a luxurious yet perhaps worthwhile option to decrease our carbon footprint.

According to Newman, the LOOP is the “iPod of student housing” that promises unbeatable rewards with initial investment.

If its location atop a decimated mechanic shop is any ironic indication of its intentions, the LOOP is a forceful yet colorful first leap to combat IV’s outdated energy habits and progress the collegiate community for years to come.