New students at the University of Santa Barbara will soon inhabit the twisted mental space of a 97-year-old billionaire: a 1.68 million square foot windowless death trap that UCSB describes as a “dorm,” designed by the vice president of Berkshire Hathaway and of course – mounting architect Charlie Munger.
The independent of Santa Barbara reports that architect Dennis McFadden resigned from the school’s design review committee to protest the project Munger Room, calling the 11-story mixed-use cell block of university rooms and inward-facing compartments a “social and psychological experience” with unknown impacts on thousands of subjects in the years to come. It will store up to 4,500 students, 94% of whom will sleep in pods fitted with what appear to be artificial light panels and bunks propped into the wall, spending their formative years squeezing into eight-room containers. Like rats. McFadden said the building only has two entrances (!)
The place will stink.
(In a Press release, UCSB does not display pictures of the dormitories but the Independent got some renderings.)
When you have to go upstairs for oxygen and sun, UCSB points out in a press release that a walled-up “courtyard” on the roof offers amenities such as “natural ventilation” (air) and ” unobstructed view of the sky ”(freedom, an illusion).
UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang called it “an unprecedented residential experience”. The prison is similar, except here you pay rent. It has retail space. And the university rooms. And the food.
They will never need to leave.
The university has already moved forward without a vote or approval process because Munger has the money, reports the Santa Barbara Independent. Munger paid the school $ 200 million to let him install his creation on campus as long as they precisely followed his plans.
In an indignant letter to campus architect Julie Hendricks, McFadden said no research had been presented to examine the human toll, which would represent the eighth densest neighborhood on Earth. It is, he writes, “unbearable from my point of view as an architect, parent and human being.” It echoes the righteousness of George Bailey, except in a world where the banker pays for everything, and that’s the end, and people live in Mungerville, which is a real place. By a Wall Street Journal Report on its architectural projects:
Although Mr. Munger never formally studied architecture, he has experience in real estate development in Southern California. He built a community of luxury beachfront properties called Sea Meadow in Montecito, Calif., In the 1980s and 1990s, which his friends call Mungerville.
But people love Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s sidekick and wise investment. There must be a lesson in this. On the one hand, there is the old rule of good, cheap and quick, and you can’t have all three; it’s cheap and fast. Each floor is only assumed to take 20 days of construction, and the university praises the modular prefabricated unit concept for its cost savings.
Or, if you work hard enough, someday you will get a fire escape.
Gizmodo has reached out to UCSB, Munger and McFadden for comment and will update the post if we have any news.