According to a resignation letter acquired by CNN Business, a consultant architect on the university’s Design Review Committee resigned in protest over the proposal.
“From my standpoint as an architect, a parent, and a human being, the core premise of Munger Hall as a place for children to reside is unsupportable,” California architect Dennis McFadden stated in the letter. McFadden declined to speak more to CNN Business.
The campus at UCSB is built on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and has its own beach. McFadden said that Munger Hall did not represent the university’s beachside setting, which is an important component of its culture and character.
“Even the rooftop garden… faces inward and might be on the ground in the desert as it is on the eleventh level on the California coast,” McFadden wrote.
Munger is an amateur architect in addition to being Warren Buffett’s right-hand man. He does not have any official schooling in the field.
“Everyone thinks he’s an expert in architecture, which is a sector where tastes differ. Furthermore, no two architects ever agree on anything “CNN Business spoke with Munger.
Munger, the 97-year-old vice chairman of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, contributed $200 million to UCSB to fund the dorms with the condition that his ideas be implemented. He intended the dorm rooms to be small and windowless in order to encourage inhabitants to spend more time outside in the common spaces, socialising with other students.
“While the bedroom may be ‘just nice enough,’ the overall experience — ‘our village in the sky,'” according to the October UCSB design review committee report.
“As the ‘vision’ of a single benefactor, the building is a social and psychological experiment with unknown consequences for the lives and personal development of the undergraduates served by the University,” it says.
The cabins do, however, include fake windows, which Munger compares to the Disney cruise ship’s artificial portholes where “starfish come in and wink at your children,” according to the Santa Barbara Independent.
According to a statement from UCSB, the project and building design will proceed as planned. All contemporary housing initiatives, according to the university, are governed by a campus plan that was “created through an intensive campus participation process with the support of Urban Design Associates.”
“I imagine there will be additional buildings like it on the UCSB campus if this thing gets built and becomes an enormous success, which is absolutely certain,” Munger remarked.
McFadden likened Munger Hall’s population density of 221,000 students per square mile to that of a part of Dhaka, Bangladesh. There are just two entry and exit locations.
“Essentially, the concept is the student life component of a mid-sized university campus in a box,” McFadden wrote. “Munger Hall is a size and density experiment with no precedence in student housing at that scale.”
Navy Banvard, a principal of Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh, developed the plan. Munger Hall, according to Banvard, is the result of a joint effort between UCSB, Munger, and the design team.