UCSB Divulges New Details on Munger Mega-Dorm

University’s Public Relations Department Makes Hard Sell on Controversial Project

In a carefully crafted display of public relations rhetoric, The Current, UCSB’s official news site, published an article Tuesday touting the proposed Munger Residence Hall while also offering a few new details on the controversial project.

An artist rendering of a landscaped courtyard within Munger Hall. | Credit: Courtesy

The massive 11-story building would provide housing for nearly 5,000 undergraduate students with “flourish and elegance,” states the article titled “Absolutely Stunning.” Its design can be credited to the “sweeping and inspired vision” of financier and architect, billionaire-philanthropist Charlie Munger.

“The outcomes he has detailed from the start of his joint venture with UC Santa Barbara specify everything from building materials to ventilation,” the article reads, “to improving student happiness and educational effectiveness, to the many academic spaces amenities it will offer — all much more affordable, and much better, than is typical for such endeavors.”

Munger describes his design, which does not include windows for most of the dormitory’s single-occupancy bedrooms, as “our version of ship architecture on land” for its efficient use of space and on-site amenities, including a fitness center, market, restaurant, conference rooms, study rooms, and a lecture hall. As a model for future residence halls, it will be “so much better than normal that it will become widely admired as among the best,” he told The Current.

In an effort to save time and money, Munger ― whose $200 million gift for the project came with the condition that UCSB officials follow his plans ― has also directed that the modular residential units be prefabricated at another location then installed at a pace of about 25 pods per week. That way, construction of an entire floor would take only 20 working days, he claims.

An artist rendering of a multipurpose academic space inside the proposed Munger Hall. | Credit: Courtesy

Heating and hot water for the structure’s 1.68 million square feet of live-work space would be all-electric in compliance with new sustainability standards for UC campuses. While no parking for the project is planned, spaces for 3,000 bikes are included in the blueprints, as well as the addition of two new bus stops.

UCSB’s second unveiling of the project ― it was originally announced in 2016 ― comes as the university faces increasing legal pressure to comply with a 2010 housing mandate, which it has fallen far short of. Residents of Munger Hall would be drawn from existing enrollment, school officials explain, and would eliminate triple rooms in all its other residence halls. 

A public feedback period for the project is now open and ends Friday, August 13. A public hearing is scheduled for July 28, 6-7:30 p.m., on Zoom. More information and the registration link can be found at bap.ucsb.edu/mungerhousing.


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