Warren Buffett's right-hand man Charlie Munger might not get his windowless dorm built at UC-Santa Barbara
- UC-Santa Barbara's Munger Hall may not be built after 13 people said it could pose health risks.
- The 200-page report includes references to "prison" dozens of times when talking of the dorm.
University of California, Santa Barbara's controversial, mostly windowless mega-dorm project — named after billionaire Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet's right-hand man — may not be built after panel of experts and other community members released a report criticizing the building's design, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The dorm — backed by a $200 million donation from Munger — was supposed to be 11-stories high with 4,500 beds across 70 square-foot bedrooms with no windows, according to the Times. But after more than a thousand campus members and Santa Barbara residents expressed complaints, the plan was downsized to nine stories and 3,500 beds.
Munger Hall has been criticized for its lack of windows in the bedrooms where students would live.
Munger, 98, is a lawyer by trade — not an architect — but has said he designed the hall himself with help from architects. He's vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and is worth about $2.2 billion, according to Forbes' calculations. He's known for dispensing folksy aphorisms on stage at Berkshire's annual "Woodstock for Capitalists" meetings — munching on See's peanut brittle and sipping Coke along with Buffett.
Amid the criticisms of Munger's self-designed hall, the panel — made up of mostly UCSB professors as well as an architect and psychologist — said that the mega-dorm poses "significant health and safety risks that are predictable enough, probable enough and consequential enough," according to the 200-page report that Vice reviewed.
The report draws from a five-month review that included a look at Munger Hall's building prototypes, conversations with those in charge of the project, surveys filled out by faculty and students, academic literature, and faculty expertise.
Panelists said that Munger Hall could pose challenges to the mental and physical health of students, Vice reported. And the word "prison" is scattered through the report 41 times, making appearances in a section called "Massiveness and Density: Prison-like Design."
The panel's report could pose a challenge to UCSB's plans to increase its student housing stock, for which Munger said there is a "huge need," according to The Real Deal.
As far as the report, Munger told The Real Deal that the it's "all horseshit," adding that "it's ridiculous."
Still, the panel said "it would be unwise for UCSB to proceed" with the project unless significant changes are implemented, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The report comes a year after Dennis McFadden, a consulting architect for the project, quit to protest the vision of the dorm, calling it a "social and psychological experiment" and "unsupportable from my perspective as an architect, a parent, and a human being."
USCB said in a statement that it was "exploring additional potential modifications to the design based on feedback that we have received from our community, as well as the recommendations from the panel."
Despite the uncertainty over the project's future, the panel suggested ways to combat the dorm's health and wellness concerns in the report, according to Vice.
The panel recommends that there should be windows in as many bedrooms as possible, or at least windows in each multi-bedroom. It also suggests expanding the size of each single bedroom, reducing the number of residents that could live in the dorm, and adding more cooking appliances to suite kitchens designed to serve eight students each.
Munger said that "We may make some minor changes," according to The Real Deal. "We're going to be reasonable."
UCSB does not have a planned start date for construction, The Daily Nexus reported.
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