Munger’s mega-dorm is an architectural horror story
Experienced architect Dennis McFadden recently resigned from his post at the University of California, Santa Barbara, because the new dorm UCSB is constructing is “unsupportable from my perspective as an architect, a parent, and a human being.”
What McFadden calls a “social and psychological experiment” is the brainchild of 97-year-old billionaire Charlie Munger. The Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman and Warren Buffett’s best friend donated $200 million for the dorm with the stipulation that his blueprints be followed exactly. But those blueprints are a little unique:
- Housing 4,500 students in 1.68 million square feet, the building would be the world’s most populous dorm and the eighth-densest neighborhood globally.
- But it would have just two exits, and 94% of students wouldn’t have windows.
Munger — who is not a trained architect but has designed other university and residential buildings — envisions Munger Hall creating a “close-knit” living experience for students.
“Everybody loves light and everybody prefers natural light. But it’s a game of tradeoffs,” he told Bloomberg.
UCSB is scrambling to resolve a student housing shortage that’s led protests on campus. It’s a problem many facing universities across the US, as undergrads log off Zoom and head to in-person class.