UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall title=
At 1.68 million square feet, Munger Hall would be the largest dormitory in the world. | Credit: Courtesy
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This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

Eight former University of California campus architects from Berkeley to San Diego have banded together to express their “extreme concern and opposition” to UCSB’s Munger Hall proposal. In a November 17 letter to the college system’s president, Michael Drake, and its board of regents, the group says the massive dormitory project ― which would warehouse 4,500 undergraduates in small, windowless bedrooms ― could have severe psychological effects on its occupants. “We ask that you take a step back and embrace the values of a humane environment, one that fosters health, safety, and welfare, instead of one that may forever harm generations of young students,” they wrote. Simply put, the project “is a disaster in the making,” they said.

The architects took special exception with the proposal’s price tag ― estimated in the range of $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion ― and noted the per-bed cost would top $330,000, making it the most expensive residential project in UC history that would inevitably drive up UCSB housing prices. By contrast, they explained, UC Santa Barbara’s San Joaquin Villages student apartment complex built in 2017 cost just $166,000 per bed. The group acknowledged UCSB’s chronic housing shortage, “but this social petri dish, so foreign to the character of the Santa Barbara campus, is not the answer,” they said. And the effects wouldn’t be limited to UCSB, they predicted. “A failed investment of this size is bound to ripple throughout the University system.”

Moreover, the architects continued, the 1.68-million-square-foot building’s lighting and ventilation systems would require a huge amount of energy to operate and would be “in direct conflict with the UC system’s Carbon Neutrality goal.” Finally, they said, “the current COVID-19 pandemic calls into question the wisdom of residential buildings relying entirely on mechanical ventilation.” 

Munger Hall’s lead architect and partial funder, Berkshire Hathaway vice president Charlie Munger, has dismissed the near-universal criticism lobbed at his design by architects across the country. He was recently quoted as saying, “No two architects ever agree on anything.” “Ironically,” the letter concludes, “Mr. Munger’s proposal for the Santa Barbara campus has demonstrated just the opposite: America’s architectural community is speaking out loudly against it.”

UCSB issued a statement in response to the letter, calling the criticism of per-bed cost “misleading.” “The design is not complete, so the final number for construction has yet to be determined,” the university said. “In terms of floor area, Munger Hall is quite different from a typical residence hall in that it provides substantially more common areas, amenities and even spaces for academic use, which ultimately translates to cost.” When the final numbers are calculated, Munger Hall’s cost per bed will be competitive with other residence halls, “if not a bit less,” it said. “Ultimately, the goal for the project is to provide students a better housing experience at a lower monthly cost than they would find in Isla Vista.”

In terms of lighting and ventilation energy demands, the university said, its project team is working closely with the dormitory’s “architect of record” ― VTBS ― to ensure the project is “held to the highest standards possible, often above and beyond Building Code requirements.” The school said it “appreciates and understands” the concerns raised by the former campus architects but ultimately feels “Munger Hall was uniquely designed to help UC Santa Barbara meet the demand for safe, affordable, on-campus housing that students desire while also fulfilling the University’s obligation to support previous enrollment increases that were mandated by the California legislature and governor.”

Find all of our Munger Dorm stories at independent.com/munger-dorm.

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Byzantium Dec 06, 2021 11:55 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

Grade inflation in K-12 has made a mockery of any prior UC enrollment mandate for the top 12.5%. Everyone is an honor student these days even if they never learned to read, write or do math at grade level. The state of California with its alleged $31 billion surplus can build a new UC campus, where land is cheap and available ( the rest of the non-urbanized 95% of the state), if they are going to be held to their "top 12.5% enrollment mandate in this era of massive grade inflation and no independent college level apptitude testing.

PitMix Dec 07, 2021 08:50 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

Studies by the EOP program at the UC shows that students admitted through them graduate at the same rate as students coming from wealthy school districts offering advanced classes so you can graduate with more than a 4.0.
In that recent scandal where parents got their kids into top schools by lying- no of the stories said the kids couldn't do the work, right?
That just shows how our customary measures of scholastic potential are not really working out.

GeneralTree Dec 04, 2021 03:36 PM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

Munger is ancient and will die soon and UCSB will use the money to build meaningful housing. Complete billionaire ego trying to masquerade as an architect to somehow make him feel good about his legacy.

Olde Mann Dec 04, 2021 11:47 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

Cut enrollment and raise tuition.

There is no need for more housing, fewer students is the solution. UCSB is a vacation destination. With partying, surfing, beach going and the like, UCSB and SBCC will continue to create an unlimited demand for space in the Santa Barbara area. Isla Vista bears the brunt of this. If you witness the mayhem and destruction that goes along with it, you will realize that quality of education is not the priority. With so much demand, and limited availability, the logical solution is to raise prices.

Santa Barbara and Goleta can push back on the state. Just say no to more students.

dukemunson Dec 06, 2021 08:37 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

They need to be building and expanding the enrolment at UC schools that have room to build. As per state law the UC schools have to admit an increasing number of students… so let’s pump some money into some facilities to make UC Merced and UC riverside bigger/better.

PitMix Dec 06, 2021 07:22 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

The California Master Plan for Higher Education of 1960 established that UC must admit undergraduates from the top 12.5% (one-eighth) of graduating high school seniors in California.

So you are suggesting that we violate State Law? I guess you pick and choose which laws you support, as usual.

Byzantium Dec 04, 2021 10:41 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

8:19 - FYI: Take if from The Daily Nexus, the UCSB student newspaper, November 2021: ................" The city of Goleta announced its plan to sue UC Santa Barbara for violating the Long Range Development Plan — a contract developed in 2010 stating that the university must cap enrollment at 25,000 until 2025, build more dormitories for the additional 5,000 students the UC mandated that every campus enroll and build 1,800 new units for its faculty and staff. ............"

Lucky 777 Dec 04, 2021 10:28 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

Perhaps FORREALNEWS has not noticed that the Psychology Building at UCSB is the only one on campus with no windows. Maybe they also have the Disney cruise line mood ring windows in their offices.

Stray Dec 04, 2021 07:43 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

The University of California Regents orders UCSB to enroll more students. Our Governor orders Santa Barbara County to build more housing. Is anyone in a position of leadership considering our semi-arid climate with diminished rainfall? That there will be zero deliveries of State water to Santa Barbara County this year? That the snowpack in the Sierras is continuing to shrink year after year? Just a basic question here: where will the drinking water come from to accommodate even more residents in Santa Barbara? Some must think that if we don't talk about limited water supplies, it won't happen. But as the dry years increase, the lack of water is going to affect current residents and those who are encouraged to move here.

Byzantium Dec 06, 2021 11:38 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

We have two elected reprsentatives (Limon and Bennet) working in our behalf in Sacramento. Unfortunately all they do is endorse the governor's partisan agenda and abstain from voting when it violates local sensibilities. We got what we keep voting for - sending someone to Sacramento to stick a knife in our backs. Vote differently next time, there have always been better choices that do campaign to protect us; not get to Sacramento and betray us. There will be another chance to elect a new local Assembly person in 2022, since Bennet is redistricted out of this area. Current options to fill this position look even worse, and we will get even more of the same. partisan quagmire and local abandonment. Vote very, very carefully for our new Assembly representative in Sacramento. Don't keep handing our local fate to the state wide political machine. The "state" is nothing more than the collective voice of those whom we vote for.

Luvaduck Dec 04, 2021 12:07 PM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

This is the problem with one-size-fits-all decisions. Edicts from state level do not take into consideration local conditions. Currently, it's as absurd as dividing the state into grid of small blocks and demanding equal housing and educational access in each small block of the grid; equal density housing and availability of higher education for L.A. and Death Valley?

Ahchooo Dec 04, 2021 09:28 AM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

Totally agree. Domestic use of water has gone down, per person, with all the water saving devices we now have. But with more and more people, we still will need more water. The state could reduce water deliveries to agriculture, but there are drawbacks to that (food production, economy). The plan seems to be : develop housing, then the water will have to be found. Kind of backasswards, if you ask me.

SBSand Dec 03, 2021 09:11 PM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

I think that the Munger proposal is intentionally bogus as a stalling tactic on behalf of UCSB. Seriously I don't see how they ever could have taken this bid as a legitimate solution. There is way more to this story!

And in the meantime Goleta is losing revenue on hotels while UCSB continues to rake in huge tuitions. Disgusting and unacceptable!

yacht rocked Dec 03, 2021 05:25 PM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

Usually having a billionaire as a "local" is beneficial to the larger Community, but obviously not in this matter where he wants to play hobby architect and leave the Munger Mausoleum as his UCSB legacy.

forrealnews Dec 03, 2021 04:38 PM
UC Campus Architects Unite in Opposition to Munger Hall

Good for these architects. However, I have quite a bit of disappointment that UCSB's psychology department is not directly involved. After all, they have a very well-known and reputable psychology doctorate program. It is great that architects bring up the psychological concerns, but psychologists should be speaking up for verification of things that are in their field.

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