In a letter to the UC Santa Barbara Design Review Committee co-chairs for Munger Hall, architectural consultant Dennis McFadden resigned in protest of the construction of the housing development on Oct. 24.
The letter — which voiced strong opposition to the planned 11-story dorm building that will hold 4,500 students and open in fall 2025 — was published on Reddit on Oct. 26 following the Oct. 5 Design Review Committee (DRC) meeting.
“I was disturbed by both the process and the content of the Munger Hall design presentation,” McFadden wrote in his letter of resignation. “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’s main concern over the construction of Munger Hall was the complete lack of access to the outside from inside the building, with the eight-person living units being completely “sealed environments with no exterior windows” and completely dependent on artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation.
The DRC reviewed the details on the construction of Munger Hall. During the meeting, Navy Banvard, the architect for Munger Hall, said that the bedroom units will have “virtual windows that simulate daylight.”
“An ample body of documented evidence shows that interior environments with access to natural light, air and views to nature improve both the physical and mental wellbeing of occupants,” McFadden wrote in the letter. “The Munger Hall design ignores this evidence and seems to take the position that it doesn’t matter.”
McFadden said in his letter of resignation that the design for the building is “100% complete,” despite DRC allowing requests to speak on the construction during the Oct. 5 meeting.
“The design was described as 100% complete, approval was not requested, no vote was taken and no further submittals are intended or required,” he wrote. “Yet in the nearly fifteen years I served as a consulting architect to the DRC, no project was brought before the committee that is larger, more transformational and potentially more destructive to the campus as a place than Munger Hall.”
Another issue McFadden noted in his letter was the “unprecedented size and density” of the building, with its single-block design being built to hold 4,500 students with two entrances.
“The project is essentially the student life portion of a mid-sized university campus in a box,” he wrote. “No research or data was presented to justify the extreme density or to understand its impact. UCSB students, as the subject of the experiment, will be left to negotiate the unintended consequences.”
UCSB spokesperson Andrea Estrada said in the statement to the Nexus that Munger Hall is a part of UCSB’s current housing projects guided by the Campus Plan — a strategy developed through an “extensive campus participatory process” with the goal of providing “affordable, on-campus housing that minimizes energy consumption and reduces the number of students living in the neighboring community of Isla Vista.”
“We are grateful for Mr. McFadden’s contributions and insights during his tenure as a consultant on our design review committee,” said Estrada.
However, his resignation will not stop the construction of Munger Hall, according to Estrada.
“The Munger Hall project and design is continuing to move forward as planned,” she said in the statement. “We are delighted to be moving forward with this transformational project.”
But McFadden stands by the drawbacks of the building outweighing its benefits.
“As a project that pushes economies of scale, prefabrication and an alternate project delivery process, Munger Hall offers an answer to the question of how to resolve the housing shortage and growth pressures currently facing the University,” McFadden wrote in his letter of resignation.
“As a design solution and a campus building, however, the project will long outlive the circumstances of its origin and will impact the life of the campus and the lives of its students for multiple generations.”
“This experiment, I believe, is the wrong answer for student housing, the UCSB campus and the UCSB community.”
there is a munger hall for grad students at the university of michigan. no windows. each room has a bathroom. that is not the case in the 8 suites of munger’s latest monstrosity where the eight rooms will share two bathrooms. since when does some rich dude get to decide how generations will live on a publicly owned university known for its beauty. residents at munger mid-west do not like the lack of windows. managing groups of 8 is no easy task. it would seem wise to wait until munger takes his dorm idea across the river.
When it is his money being used to a large portion of it. Its weird how people who are only on the campus for a short time, and need affordable housing think they should have a suite at some luxury hotel. Sometimes, utility housing is perfectly fine. People have become soft.
Lol bc the only alternative to an 11 story windowless death trap is “some luxury hotel.” A houseplant wouldn’t even survive in this hellish environment. Stop making students seem like ‘entitled brats’ for demanding livable housing. This is not livable housing. If the university has a housing problem, maybe they should damn well reduce the amount of students admitted each year to a normal number.
Most non-luxury hotel suites have windows, lmfao! You can live in a prison cell if you want, inmate. Sometimes, windows are perfectly fine. People have become hardened idiots.
LOLLL yeah… luxury!! Jeez, with artificial sunlight in place of actual windows with real sunlight, and actual fresh air, Munger should’ve built 11 stories underground. Bc hey, who needs things like air, sunlight, privacy, space, sanity??
Munger’s money is in fact funding less than 20% of the project, and yet he’s demanding his plans be followed exactly. UCSB is letting the tail wag the dog. There’s a big difference between this project and a luxury hotel suite, a wide range of options to consider. Find me one professional architect who thinks this project is great as-is. Needing a window in your bedroom is not going soft. It’s a basic principle of all residential spaces except for prisons.
UCSB builds student prison. I couldn’t imagine being on campus and not having a window and only a shared kitchen space. What a dystopian nightmare!
This planned dormitory is a dystopian horror with its hundreds of windowless rooms and tightly packed population. The living conditions will lead directly to students killing themselves and each other, and both the University and Mr. Munger will have blood on their hands — though Munger will be long dead by that time.
He is already dead inside to be believing this kind of living environment would inspire students to learn. UCSB is hurting future generations of students for $200M.
Maybe oligarchs shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Still blows my mind that the university is willing to entertain some rich clown’s bad idea like this, as if anyone who’s ever spent time in a dorm room couldn’t tell you how bad an idea putting eight people in a suite would be. Two entrances with 4,500 students? How many building code violations is that? What happens when the shoddy wiring in these ‘virtual windows’ catches fire? Just because this is his passion project that he’s willing to lay down money for (probably because nobody actually wants to build it) and it’s a fast way to make it seem… Read more »
Why is it “Barracks Style” living is ok for the military, but somehow you are above it? This is how most housing was designed until about 25 years ago. What is it about this generation that makes you think you are somehow special and deserve so much more when you have done nothing yet for society overall?
TWO exits for 4500 people. HOW is this safe. We know about shooters and about fire and earthquakes. This little egress is not ok!
I hate the idea, but emergency exits do not get counted as entrances. So, it’s not as if there are only two exits or they could circumvent safety codes even if they wanted.
“This is how most housing was designed until about 25 years ago.”
You have no idea as to what you speak of. You come off sounding like you’re either commenting from Putin’s Disruption Division in Moscow or else you drink way too much JabbaSaurus Juice – complements of Donald Trump.
Just another Trumper who has never gone to college, else finishing his or her shift at the misinformation bureau somewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Simple answer to a dumb ass question. This is a university, not North Korea you brown-
Nosing scurvy-brained prune!
I call Bullshit! Most housing is not built like this. 25 years ago was 1996. In fact, I have never seen anything like this outside of the USSR where people were so damn miserable that they walked around with deep frown lines. An unhappy population is a recipe for disaster.
Remember that one psychopath in 2014 who went on a shooting spree? Well, poor mental health was to blame. A windowless 4,500 person crammed building is not the way to go. Please consider our safety and mental health. University is stressful as is without this kind of empty soulless housing.
I will never donate another dime to this university as long as the wretched administration is short sighted enough to take $200M over the long-term welfare of its students. No worries though, as UCSB has $200M reasons to ignore us. Too bad they decided to blow it on this unique prison experiment!
I second that
People deserve to have a sufficient amount of entrances to be able to exit safely in the event of an emergency such as a fire and to have windows so they can see sunlight. Why is it that there is always one of these fools who thinks being safe and sane is being special?
Ummm maybe because we pay $5,000 a quarter, $15,000 a year, and $60,000 in 4 years of TUITION MONEY alone. Not to mention our housing isn’t free. Because that’s why.
Because maybe the UC regents continue to raise our tuition when it used to be that a UC student could pay full tuition and have money left over just from working a part time job (1970’s era).
This generation has worked far harder than we did to get into UCSB and they’ll leave with far more debt than we did. Get a grip on your holier-than-thou attitude. This is most definitely not how housing was designed until 25 years ago. Why are you so angry? Did you even go to UCSB?
Oh, a keyboard warrior! I didn’t say it was okay for the military either, but since you want to bring up the comparison – UCSB students didn’t sign up for the military, they signed up for college, where they expect at least some level of comfort. And as for having done “nothing yet for society,” and thinking we’re “somehow special,” I’d say bearing the weight of the past generations’ poor financial and social decisions and having to grow up faster to fix their messes is something. But if you’re talking about me personally, the blood drives I’ve run and the… Read more »
It’s disgusting that this would be allowed… prison style living right next to the ocean.
4,500 students and no bathrooms… where would everyone go poo poo?
wag bags, maybe?
This building is a safety nightmare. What happens in a power outage, when the lighting fails and the forced ventilation stops functioning. How fast will it then become hell on earth. Then there is the problem of only 2 entrances/exits. What happens in a firedrill or an actual fire when everybody has to leave the building asap. I can envision people being wounded or trampled to death in the scramble at the exits. Also it will enable hazing, bullying and other undesirable behavior as the victim will have to few exits to flee the building without being caught by the… Read more »
There are many emergency exits in the design. It’s still a terrible design.
What in the Asimov dystopian nightmare is going on at my alma mater? Single occupancy cocoon rooms. I can’t believe the administration is backing this proposal. Can we get feedback from students at Michigan who are currently living in a similar building?
lol, Munger described them as “being in orbit” with happiness.
During my first stay at UCSB…1967 as I recall…HDF Kitto, the classical scholar, made an annual visit during fall quarter. One day, as I walked along a sidewalk with him, he made a gently disparaging reference to the new building on campus (one of the first multi-story office buildings). I asked him to elaborate his objection. “There’s such a thing as grace”, he replied. Mr. Munger is not an architect, and UCSB should have enough integrity to decline his efforts to buy such status. Wake up. UCSB is a great public institution, and on behalf of myself, Mr. Kitto, and… Read more »
Im proud to be a part of an alumni network that remains loyal and loving from 1967! Salut to you dear, sir. Yes! Let’s keep UCSB graceful
Munger is clearly a cocksuker who has alteroir motives. I\f this is alllowed, we’ve all ourselfes and deserve to die. Absolutely disgusting.
Uh, one can appreciate your motive, but I very much hope that you are not enrolled in the English deparment. I had no idea that UCSB has any aggie majors.
Nah… econ major, graduated in 1999. I was a little drunk when I typed that yesterday.
Monty Python’s Stack-A-Pleb housing concept taken to its logical conclusion. In an environment whose hallmark is clean air, open skies, and ample sunshine, the university proposes an above ground maximum security prison. Could it be that after its constructed, fresh air and natural sunlight will become available as an extra cost add on for those students having the financial means to afford such “luxuries”. Teaching the incoming students the realities of class and privilege is, after all, an essential part of everyones education.
OMG! Soooo true
And how would this beehive fare during a pandemic?
How does this design pass fire codes?
Bribes! Whoops, sorry, I mean persuasive donations… not bribes
This project is an acute embarrassment to the entire U C system. As an environmental designer having had a role in a number of high capital projects on another U C campus, I only hope that the students rise up with a march on the chancellor’s residence and send him or her fleeing for safety. This design is far worse than the typical military barracks design of the Vietnam War era.
This is a horrible horrible idea. Maybe cram the administration into one of these cells for a year and see how they like it.
This is a great idea. Just a month in those conditions will have them reconsidering this foolish idea.
You bring up a great point. Munger keeps comparing this to Disneyland cruise staterooms because that’s his closest reference point as a billionaire. People use Disneyland cruise staterooms when they are on vacation cruises, with tons of support staff constantly cleaning the rooms, making their beds, fixing their meals and all manner of mechanical and safety problems, and occupants able to spend most of their time above deck enjoying their cruise or be moved by the concierge if their lighting or ventilation dies or the mold wasn’t cleaned properly. They can pay extra to get a window to avoid claustrophobia… Read more »
Chancellor Yang should resign and retire. He used to be a cool guy, I don’t trust him any more. Did y’all read his response to this madness “inspired and revolutionary.” He no longer has the student in mind, $$$$
I’m a fan of reality. I do not like delusional thinking. I do not like deceptive thinking. The Munger Hall proposal is shit.
Even in luxurious projects, the minimum code legal standard is often what determines an outcome. This extreme Munger proposal highlights the need for a revision to the code. Minimum access to natural daylight is a legal requirement in many other jurisdictions.
How much of today’s article in The NY Times was lifted from this piece, with no credit and no link!
He’s pushing a windowless design. Maybe because he is blind in one eye and sight impaired in the other. Also, this lovely philanthropist admits that he doesn’t know a thing about architecture. Read for yourselves From a WallStreet Journal on Munger: “Some of the 95-year-old billionaire’s ideas sound eccentric. Removable walls? Windowless bedrooms? Modeling dormitories after cruise ships? Mr. Munger calls conventional architecture “massively stupid.” “Architects don’t love me,” he says. “Either I change architects, or he does it my way.” … “ That hasn’t stopped him from spending up to several hours a day working on architectural drawings. Neither… Read more »
This isn’t philanthropy! What kind of person donates money on the condition that he has to design the building? Especially, when he laughs about not being an actual architect. Furthermore, what kind of leadership accepts a scenario where his students are part of a “social and psychological experiment,” Munger’s own words. He wants to stuff and cram over 4,500 students as a part of a social and psychological experiment. How the hell is the administration going along with this??? That’s a lot of students in one building with no windows, few bathrooms, and only two entrances. Will our administrators sell… Read more »
Imagine how painful it is for the Chumash to see little colonist kids crying over a dorm on the land of their people. You’re not a victim. Sit down and shut up pansy.
Nahh brehh we ain’t victims. Us students are investors. And we are not happy with the way our university is handling our money in fugazi dorms and whack projects.
Do the math. 23,000 students. We each pay 14-15 grand a year. More for out of state students. And even more for internationals.
That’s a whopping $345,000,000. Each. Year.
Let’s build more dorms. Just a normal design that’s actually designed by real architects in place of amateurs (Munger… cough cough*) who cant even build Legos.
4,500 human bodies in one building??? Some professors won’t even accept a paper that goes beyond 4,500 words.
Is the message that students are more dispensable than words?
The message is if you have $200 million then feel free to build the dorm how you like. If you don’t, then you should stfu.
I love the comments here… you guys all make me proud to be a UCSB alum… keep up the good work guys and I’ll see you all soon. Pizza and beer on me at Woodstocks.
Uh, no thanks. No one wants to hang out with some old creeper trying to relive his youth. If I graduate and still hang out on UCSBs message boards, then I need to seriously reevaluate my sad little life.
Lol. Ever heard of alumni weekend??? That’s literally one of the best days of the year. We LOVE our alums – they impacted campus and culture in ways that we cannot fully fathom.
FYI: why don’t you open up a calendar to April 22. You see those words “Earth Day?” Yup, that was a legacy our alums left us. Know the shoulders upon which you stand.
Anonymous Class of 2022
I’ve never been more embarrassed to be a UCSB student. All students should have access to a freaking window in their room, instead of living in some Black Mirror style room with virtual windows. It’s truly shameful that you would move forward with a project simply because of the donation, and not at all take into account students’ well-being. Shame on you UCSB.
This “dorm” is completely out of character for UCSB, and an awful design. Shame on those who approved this monstrosity. Alums – stop donating to UCSB now!
MWAHAHAaaaAA! Greetings Plebians and peasants! Thank you for visiting my proposal. I welcome you all to the unveiling of this brilliant psychological experiment. Come, let us go for a walk together, I will guide you through the interior of Munger Hall. You will now take a sneak peak at the supreme wisdom of my design. (Action: walking up to the building). (Monologue continues). You see, I have much more money than you do. And, therefore, I can take control of what ever I wish on a single whim! It’s good to be rich, isn’t it? Heh, maybe you should’ve studied… Read more »
It sounds like the plan is to have a faux light box window in each room…not a great idea! How about replace the light box with upgradable ultra high definition screens with live campus views of what your actual window would be? Would be great if the screen could be used for all your devices as well. Not ideal but better than a weird light box.