Bruce Bartlett, an architect who helped design some of Santa Barbara’s notable buildings, including Sevilla (formerly Chapala One), the Santa Barbara Bowl and the beachfront La Entrada currently under construction, died Friday of pancreatic cancer.

He was 68. 

Bartlett served eight years on the city’s Planning Commission before retiring in 2014 and previously sat on the Architectural Board of Review.

He put his touches on several projects throughout the city, including the Santa Barbara Children’s Museum, Sansum Clinic and the Alma del Pueblo/Public Market development.

“I admired his complete devotion to the public service role that he committed to,” said Planning Commissioner Deborah Schwartz, who served with him on the commission for five years.

“The degree to which he did his homework was extraordinary. The level of detail that he brought, his diligence, his architectural knowledge were all such an important skill set.”

Bartlett, a Santa Barbara resident, was a co-founder of DESIGNWORKS in 1978 with partner Mark Kirkhart. In 1988, the company became Design ARC.

He helped grow the firm to more than 40 employees with offices in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, and projects throughout the Central Coast and Southern California. 

Bruce Bartlett contributed to architecture projects and design review in Santa Barbara for decades. (Design ARC photo)

Bartlett played an influential role in the city at a time of great change — City leaders approved a new General Plan, updated its Housing Element and created development guidelines for its neighborhoods and commercial core on Upper State Street.

Bartlett has played a role and exercised influence in all of those areas, including his work on the city’s Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance.

“Bruce was very dedicated not only to the profession of architecture, but also of maintaining the beauty of our city,” Kirkhart said. 

Schwartz recalled that Bartlett possessed a photographic memory and was superbly organized. He would bring color-coded pencils and Post-it notes with him to Planning Commission meetings.

“There was a great deal of order that was applied to his preparation,” Schwartz said.

“He brought that mental rigor to the job, but also he had that remarkable ability to see the big picture.”

Most recently, Bartlett and his firm took great interest in developing a project that took advantage of the city’s Average Unit Density program, which resulted in Mirasol at 3885 State Street, under construction near La Cumbre Plaza.

At 89 units, it’s the largest rental housing project the city has seen in decades.

City Planner Renee Brooke said she will miss Bartlett.

“Bruce was not afraid to ask tough questions on and off the dais,” she said.

“His knowledgeable insight into design and the development process inevitably made projects better in the end. He was personable, and fair. He cared a great deal about this community.”

In recent years, Bartlett became a LEED certified architect. Bartlett earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

He is survived by his wife, Ann and two sons, Nick and Cord. 

“Bruce Bartlett was a great community volunteer for the City of Santa Barbara,” City Administrator Paul Casey said.

“He was thoughtful, considerate and added true value to the city’s design review and planning process.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com.