There is controversy over Charlie Munger’s design for a large dormitory at UCSB

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  • BRK.A

Charlie Munger’s architectural design for a new, large dormitory at the University of California, Santa Barbara, attracts attention after an architect on the School’s Design Review Committee quit the school for believing it didn’t have enough natural light.

The 11-story, $ 1.5 billion building with an area of ​​1.68 million square feet would house 4,536 students. It is intended to remedy a serious housing shortage at the school, which is threatened with lawsuits.

Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is interested in both architecture and investing. Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner is donating millions to pay the bill for the building – on the condition that he plays a major role in the design.

The proposed building has groups of eight single rooms organized into suites. The bedrooms do not have windows, but the common areas do and there are plenty of them.

It offers amenities such as a fitness center on the roof, a lounge, a gastro-pub, a juice bar, a “Grab-n-Go” market, a leafy inner courtyard and of course a storage room for surfboards.

Munger Hall

Munger’s concept is to increase the number of students the building can accommodate while giving them some privacy and encouraging them to spend plenty of time in the common areas socializing and working together.

(A UCSB presentation for a hearing in July has many drawings and plans, as well as technical details.)

the Independent Santa Barbara reports that architect Dennis McFadden resigned after 15 years on the examination board because the design “is unsustainable from my point of view as an architect, a parent and a person”.

In a letter to the school, McFadden wrote that there is ample evidence that interiors with “natural light, air, and views of nature improve both the physical and mental wellbeing of residents. Munger Hall’s design ignores this evidence and seems to position it that it doesn’t matter. “

McFadden argued that as “a single donor’s ‘vision’ the building is a social and psychological experiment with unknown effects on the life and personal development of the students the university serves.”

In an interview with Bloomberg, Munger defended his concept. “Everyone loves light and everyone prefers natural light. But it’s a game of compromise. If you’re building a large square building, everything is conveniently close to everyone in the building. If you maximize the light, fewer people will come into the building. “

Munger told Bloomberg the dorm is an “upgraded version” of a building that houses University of Michigan graduate students that he helped design and pay for.

“I was only there last month. We picked students at random and they’re all crazy about it. We’re copying the existing building, which is a huge success, and we’ve improved it.”

The project is still pending further reviews and approvals.

The school hopes to open in the fall of 2025.

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