The 97-year-old billionaire Charlie Munger, along with an amateur architect with no formal education in the field, is providing funds for the design of a tremendous 1.68-million-square-foot dormitory at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in a $1.5 billion project. Quite surprisingly, the dorms do not have windows.
The plan is brought forward by the architect, Navy Banvard, UCSB, Munger, and the design team. Dennis McFadden, a consulting architect on the university’s Design Review Committee, resigned as he did not agree with the plan.
He said that this building of 11 stories with inward-facing compartments is “a social and psychological experiment” in a resignation letter reported by the Santa Barbara Independent.
Munger has donated $200 million to UCSB but on the condition that his plan would be followed exactly.
The huge building was supposed to have only two entrances and will be able to house 4,500 students, and 94 percent won’t have windows in their single-person bedrooms. There will be eight “houses” with eight suites on each residential floor, with each housing 63 students. Each suite will have eight single-occupancy beds, as well two bathrooms, and a common area.
Natural light will only be available in common spaces. However, the design ignores the fact that students stay in their bedrooms mostly and the lack of light there can create problems for them both mentally and physically.
“The basic concept of Munger Hall as a place for students to live is unsupportable from my perspective as an architect, a parent, and a human being,” McFadden wrote. Munger, on the other hand, told CNN Business that he wanted to inspire students to spend time outside of their bedrooms, instead of getting closed off in their own spaces.
“As the ‘vision’ of the single donor, the building is a social and psychological experiment with an unknown impact on the lives and personal development of the undergraduates the University serves,” he wrote.
UCSB announced in a statement that the project and design of the building will go forward as planned. It will be ready soon as one floor will be done in 20 days. “When this thing goes up and becomes an extreme success, which is absolutely inevitable, I think there will end up being more buildings like it on the UCSB campus,” he said.