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Warren Buffett’s billionaire partner Charlie Munger is bankrolling a windowless dorm


The business partner of billionaire Warren Buffet created a stir with the design of a dormitory on a California campus that he’s bankrolling.

The problem many have is that 94 percent of the rooms Charlie Munger’s proposed $1.5billion new living quarters at the University of California at Santa Barbara are on the interior of the building and have no windows.

One consulting architect dislikes the project – known as Munger Hall – so much that he quit it completely and wrote a letter explaining his decision.    

‘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,’ California architect Dennis McFadden wrote in the letter.

McFadden argued that the design doesn’t fit in with the campus or the environment that surrounds it

Charlie Munger (pictured right) is the vice chairman of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway

Munger donated $200million to the University of California at Santa Barbara to build Munger Hall based solely on his designs

Munger donated $200million to the University of California at Santa Barbara to build Munger Hall based solely on his designs

Munger wants the 1,100 residents to spent time in common areas rather than their own rooms

Munger wants the 1,100 residents to spent time in common areas rather than their own rooms

A floor plan shows off one of the buildings' 'suites' which will house eight people each

A floor plan shows off one of the buildings’ ‘suites’ which will house eight people each

‘Even the rooftop courtyard… looks inward and may as well be on the ground in the desert as on the eleventh floor on the coast of California,’ McFadden wrote.

McFadden went as far to compare the population density to that of Bangladesh and criticized that there were only two points of entry and exit.   

‘The project is essentially the student life portion of a mid-sized university campus in a box,’ McFadden wrote. ‘Munger Hall is an experiment in size and density with no precedent in student housing at that scale.’

Munger, 97, is the vice chairman of Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway company. He donated $200million to the school to fund the dorms with the promise that his designs be followed. His grandson is a UCSB alum. 

He funded a similar building at the University of Michigan through a $110million donation.  

His logic, he claimed, is that he wants residents to spend more time meeting each other outside their rooms in common areas.   

‘Architecture is a field where tastes vary, and everyone thinks he’s an expert. And no two architects ever agree on anything,’ Munger said.

McFadden doesn’t like the idea of a single person’s design going into the making of the dorm with what sounds like a gimmick.   

‘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.

Munger Hall, if finished, is set to be an 11-story building with over 4,500 beds. Each floor would have eight ‘houses’ that hold 63 students, with eight ‘suites’ in each house and eight beds per suite. 

The suites also each have two bathrooms and a common area. 

UCSB confirmed the project will go on as planned despite McFadden’s resignation. They added that all campus housing is ‘developed through an extensive campus participatory process with the assistance of Urban Design Associates.’

Each floor at Munger Hall would have eight 'houses' that hold 63 students, with eight 'suites' in each house and eight beds per suite

Each floor at Munger Hall would have eight ‘houses’ that hold 63 students, with eight ‘suites’ in each house and eight beds per suite

Architect Dennis McFadden has quit the project, calling the design 'unsupportable'

Architect Dennis McFadden has quit the project, calling the design ‘unsupportable’

Munger donated $110million to have this building erected on the campus of the University of Michigan

Munger donated $110million to have this building erected on the campus of the University of Michigan 

UCSB claims it's facing a housing crisis with a waitlist of over 1,000 students searching for somewhere to live

UCSB claims it’s facing a housing crisis with a waitlist of over 1,000 students searching for somewhere to live

Munger has no doubt he’s at the start of a new trend in student housing.  

‘When this thing goes up and becomes an extreme success, which is absolutely inevitable, I think there will end up to be more buildings like it on the UCSB campus,’ Munger said.

However, the rooms do have artificial windows, which Munger said resemble the Disney cruise ship’s artificial portholes where ‘starfish come in and wink at your children,’ the Santa Barbara Independent reported.

UCSB said in a statement that the building will go forward as planned. The university also said all of the current housing projects are guided by a campus plan, which was ‘developed through an extensive campus participatory process with the assistance of Urban Design Associates.’

The school says it’s facing a housing crisis with a waitlist of over 1,000 students searching for somewhere to live.  

‘One of the reasons, and there are many, for the project is to address the University’s substantive housing needs,’ Banvard said. ‘Good and affordable housing for students in a very competitive housing market.’

Munger promises that he only means well for the students of the school. 

‘I’m a product of education, public education,’ Munger said. ‘And I know how important schools are and the architecture of schools is, so naturally I drifted toward giving dormitories.’  



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