The UCSB Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) is currently constructing a three-floor residence for visiting scholar physicists located adjacent to the San Clemente Villages, scheduled to open late next year.
American businessman and philanthropist Charlie Munger donated $65 million to be used for constructing the Visiting Scholars Residence, a 75,000-square-foot building located on El Colegio Road west of San Clemente apartments. The Visiting Scholars Residence for KITP includes meeting rooms, shared kitchens, dining rooms, a gym and 61 apartment style, fully-furnished private bedrooms with private bathrooms. The residence will also house a flag hall to display national flags of current visiting scholars. Construction began October 2014 and the Visiting Scholars Residence is planned to open late 2016. KITP is a research facility created in 1979 which hosts programs such as Deconstructing the Sense of Smell and Dynamics and Evolution of Earth-like Planets.
KITP residence manager James Brill said he currently collaborates with visiting scholars to coordinate housing in Isla Vista and Santa Barbara. According to Brill, he contributed to the layout design of the Visiting Scholars Residence and attributes the success of the construction to Munger’s donation.
“We had a very informal rental program … so as a result, years ago, they really thought about making some sort of residence,” Brill said. “Then, as we kept adding more and more scientists, it became a definite need, and then just last year Charlie Munger decided to give us a very, very generous grant to build the residence.”
Brill said the residence will accommodate visiting scholars at UCSB as well as their families.
“We’ve designed a lot of the rooms to be family friendly — we have like a child’s play room and we want to make sure nothing is stopping you from coming and being as productive as you can possibly be while you’re here,” Brill said.
According to Brill, the meeting rooms allow visiting physicists to interact off-campus and to conduct their work in their living setting.
“If you’ve got everyone working on a program, you’re all together, which is something the physicists really wanted,” Brill said. “It’s really nice that you can do a lot of intensive work no matter where you are.”
Brill said the exterior of the Visiting Scholars Residence for KITP is meant to resemble Santa Barbara architecture.
“Because we have such a big international group, we tried to tie it into the construction that we have in Santa Barbara … we want it to fit into the aesthetic of the neighborhood,” Brill said. “The main goal of KITP is to get people from all parts of the world to get together.”
Director of KITP and professor of astrophysics and cosmology Lars Bildsten said KITP hosts programs year round to “capture frontier topics” and provide a venue for open discussions.
“The major thing that the KITP provides for the university is a huge flock of physicists that come for long periods and interact mostly with each other, but most of our activities are open to the campus,” Bildsten said. “So we get a lot of physics graduates students, mathematical graduate students, biology students who come and interact with the visitors.”
UCSB professor of biophysics and KITP permanent member Boris Shraiman said KITP is a “fantastic” place physicists can visit to be inspired.
“[The] new residence will allow our physicists to stay together and keep working and thinking about science 24/7,” Shraiman said. “It will become immediately an attraction and I expect to go there in the evening to hang out with the scientists.”