UC Santa Barbara cut two floors from its proposed Munger Hall student dormitory design and released updated renderings of the nine-story structure on Sept. 26 as it reaches the final stages of the approval process.

Updated rendering of Munger Hall courtesy of UCSB.

The updated design arrived as UCSB prepares to release the long-awaited Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Munger Hall, after which the dormitory will seek approval from the University of California Board of Regents and the California Coastal Commission — necessary steps before construction can begin. 

The university initially projected to break ground on the dormitory in Winter Quarter 2023, but now has no target to start construction, UCSB Media Relations Manager Kiki Reyes said in an email statement to the Nexus. Former UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas told KEYT that the dormitory could break ground as early as summer 2023 and — following a 40-month construction period — open in the middle of 2026.

“We do not have a target to start construction at this time,” Reyes said. “It will all depend on the ongoing process, including filing the EIR and other necessary approvals. At this point, if everything happened smoothly, the earliest that construction could start would be the summer of 2023, but we are still taking community input and do not want to get out in front of the process”

The Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) — a contractual agreement intended to shape campus development between 2010 and 2025 — mandates that the university accommodate an additional 5,000 undergraduate students by 2025.

To fulfill the remainder of its LRDP obligations, UCSB proposed Munger Hall, a massive dormitory initially planned to have 4,536 beds and mostly windowless student bedrooms. The changed proposal now features about 3,500 beds, Lucas told Noozhawk.

UCSB added 1,500 beds through construction of the San Joaquin and Sierra Madre Villages, constructed five and six years ago respectively. According to Reyes, these projects brought the university closer to its accommodations target and factored into its decision to reduce the scale of the Munger Hall project. Reyes added that community input played a role in the changes. 

“As for the decision to move from 11 floors to nine floors, the campus has already constructed 1,500 beds so it allows us to both meet that [LRDP] goal and respond to input from our community about size and density. It also helps us to avoid any potential issues related to airport traffic,” Reyes told the Nexus in a statement.

New renderings released on the university’s YouTube and Munger Hall page detail the dormitory’s exterior and top floor, which is set to feature a fitness center, classroom and pub among other amenities.

Recently, the university opened its Munger Hall mock-up to media outside the campus community, during which time Lucas told KEYT that the EIR will be released by late October. Although the EIR “could be filed this fall,” the timing has yet to be finalized, according to Reyes.

UCSB has been accused of violating the LRDP in lawsuits filed against the university by Santa Barbara Country and the city of Goleta. The university declined to say if it had any plans to add permanent undergraduate housing to the campus by 2026 apart from Munger Hall.

A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Oct. 6, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.

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Mark Alfred
Mark Alfred (he/him) is the university news editor for the 2022-23 school year. Contact: markalfred@dailynexus.com or 858-413-7384 (text/Signal).