With the executive haven of beautiful Santa Barbara, Calif., just to the north and skilled labor-rich Ventura a quick drive south on the Pacific Coast Highway, Carpinteria, Calif., is quickly becoming a destination for major employers, including software giant Microsoft.

Yet the sleepy beachside resort town has seen little new multifamily development, offering a great market opportunity for the Santa Barbara-based development team of Cloud 9 Homes and ON Design Architects. There was just one caveat: The project site backs right up against U.S. Highway 101, which, given California traffic, is anything but quiet.

As it turned out, simple physics provided an answer to the noise nuisance at Lavender Court, a 40-unit garden-style, now-stabilized low-rise offering a New Urbanist, walkable alternative to commuting. “There’s nothing better than mass to reduce the noise of the freeway,” explains ON Design principal Justin Van Mullem.


Location: Carpinteria, Calif.
Builder/Developer: Cloud 9 Homes
Architect: ON Design Architects
Opened: December 2008
No. of Units: 40 Unit Mix: One-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments
Prices: $1,600 to $2,700 per month

The development team lined the back of the property with garages and second-story loft units to shut out the highway drone, and they added additional second-story loft units as a sound buffer. Those loft units, in turn, feature fixed laminated glass windows facing Highway 101 and walls constructed with sound-stabilizing panels.

With the freeway out of sight and out of mind, residents can focus on the community, which features a local 1920s arts-and-crafts bungalow motif embracing form, design, and functionality. Details such as copper gutters, knee brackets, saw-tooth outriggers, tapered columns, and shed dormers serve a purpose, Van Mullem says. “In an oceanfront environment, these materials are important over time and will save money in upkeep.”

Proximity to the ocean, shopping, and the Carpinteria town square helps, as well. “That’s what people look for these days—a New Urbanism approach of living in the town you work in and not having to get on the freeway,” Van Mullem says. Or in the case of Lavender Court, not having to hear the freeway, either.