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Charlie Munger funds a giant windowless dormitory in California.  An architect resigns

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Charlie Munger funds a giant windowless dormitory in California. An architect resigns

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An architect consultant for the university’s Design Review Committee resigned in protest against the project, in a resignation letter obtained by CNN Business.

“The basic concept of Munger Hall as a place for students to live is unbearable from my perspective as an architect, parent and human being,” California architect Dennis McFadden wrote in the letter. McFadden declined to comment further to CNN Business.

Besides being Warren Buffett’s right-hand man, Munger is an amateur architect. He has no formal education in the field.

“Architecture is a field where tastes vary, and everyone thinks he’s an expert. And there are never two architects to agree on anything,” Munger told CNN Business.

Munger, the 97-year-old vice president of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, has donated $ 200 million to UCSB to fund the dorms, with the caveat that his designs will be followed. He wanted the dorms to be tiny and windowless to encourage residents to spend more time outside in common areas, meeting other students.

“While the room may be ‘just good enough’, the entire experience makes it an exceptional experience – ‘our city in the sky’,” the design review committee’s October report said. from UCSB.

This did not suit McFadden.

“As a single donor ‘vision’, the building is a social and psychological experience with unknown impact on the lives and personal development of the undergraduates served by the University,” McFadden wrote.

The Munger Hall plan includes an 11-story building that would provide more than 4,500 beds for undergraduates. Each residential floor would have eight houses, each containing 63 students. There are eight suites in each house, and each suite has eight single beds – window not included. Each suite also has two bathrooms and a common area.

However, the rooms have man-made windows, which Munger says resemble the man-made portholes on the Disney cruise ship where “starfish come in and wink at your kids,” the Santa Barbara Independent reported.

The UCSB said in a statement that the building project and design will proceed as planned. The university also said that all current housing projects are guided by a campus plan, which was “developed through an extensive participatory process on campus with the help of Urban Design Associates.”

“When this thing goes up and becomes an extreme hit, which is absolutely inevitable, I think there will eventually be more buildings like this on the UCSB campus,” Munger said.

McFadden compared the population density of Munger Hall, which is 221,000 students per square mile, as being slightly less than part of Dhaka, Bangladesh. There are only two entry and exit points.

“The project is essentially the student life part of a mid-sized college campus in a box,” McFadden wrote. “Munger Hall is an experience of unprecedented size and density in student housing on this scale. “

“Peer interaction is a critical theme in fostering a learning and supportive environment while providing the resources and amenities necessary to support a full life experience,” the According to the staff report of the Design Review Committee.

Charlie Munger funds a giant windowless dormitory in California.  An architect resigns

 | News Today

The UCSB campus is located on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and has its own beach. Its beachfront location is an integral part of the campus culture and identity – and Munger Hall doesn’t reflect that, McFadden said.

“Even the rooftop courtyard … looks inward and may just as easily be on the ground in the desert as it is on the eleventh floor on the California coast,” McFadden wrote.

Munger’s grandson is a former UCSB student.

“I am a product of education, of public education,” Munger said. “And I know how important the schools and the architecture of the schools are, so naturally I drifted towards creating dormitories.”

The project is slated to open in fall 2025 pending approval and certification in 2022 by the California Coastal Commission.

This is not Munger’s first adventure in dormitory architecture. Munger Graduate Residences at the University of Michigan follows a similar concept. The high-density dormitory, which also mostly includes windowless rooms, was funded by a $ 110 million donation from Munger.

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