It's designed by its donor, Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway. He's not an architect.

Munger Hall exterior“class=
Munger Hall Exterior.


For years on Treehugger, we have writtenin praise of the dumb box, calling for形式的简单性and for logical, straightforward, efficient building plans. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet's longtime partner, has thought along these lines as he designed student residences in his spare time.

Munger designed a giant box to house 4,500 students at the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB) with the assistance of architect of recordVan Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh, which says in its company profile that its goal "is to provide meaningful design solutions that effectively respond to the needs of our clients and the inhabitants of our buildings, while respecting the sensitive balance of community and the environment."


Architectural critic Paul Goldberger started the ball rolling after reading圣塔芭芭拉独立的一篇文章。这篇文章引用了丹尼斯·麦克法登(Dennis McFadden)的辞职信,这是一位受人尊敬的建筑师,他在UCSB的设计审查委员会任职15年 -在这里全面阅读。He writes: "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."

McFadden is concerned about the population density and the lack of windows in student rooms. He writes:

“An ample body of documented evidence shows that interior environments with access to natural light, air and view to nature improve both the physical and mental wellbeing of occupants. The Munger Hall design ignores this evidence and seems to take the position that this doesn't matter: The building offers communal living spaces for multiple groups of 64 students, but at the cost of any connection to the exterior. The 8-person living units are sealed environments with no exterior windows in the shared space or in 94% of the bedrooms; the spaces are wholly dependent on artificial light and mechanical ventilation."

Since the Goldberger tweet, everyone has been piling on, including The Washington Post, which published "Two doors, few windows and 4,500 students: Architect quits over billionaire’s mega dorm。“

Ground Floor Plan“class=


But there are not just two doors. Like any building, even as big asOne World Trade Centerin New York with 50,000 occupants, there are main entrances and then there are emergency exits. Looking at the ground floor plan, I count 10 exits from emergency stairs and two main entrances. There might be a lot of jumping to conclusions here, so let's step back and look at this dispassionately.

Some of Munger's thinking is not unreasonable. According to a2019年《华尔街日报》中的文章, he is giving each student private rooms (something that is rare in student residences) but not so big or comfortable that they do much more than sleep. Munger believes students would rather have single rooms than bedroom windows, which limit design flexibility and waste space. "When Mr. Munger designs buildings, he dislikes curves, wasted space, shared bedrooms and bad acoustics," writes The Wall Street Journal.


“Munger’s proposal includes suites of eight single bedrooms alongside large common spaces. Most bedrooms would have artificial windows patterned after the portholes on Disney cruise ships, with customized lighting to mimic daylight.. He says he wants to use architecture at schools to coax students into common spaces where they can mingle and collaborate: “The students will educate themselves and one another much better if we do the housing right.”

为UCSB设计了两座建筑物的建筑师James Timberlake告诉TreeHugger大学有巨大的住房问题。Timberlake说:“人们承认,这个校园飞地有严重的城镇礼服住房问题和社会问题,导致了骚乱和损害,他们希望减少对私营部门住房库存的依赖。”

But he also writes on Twitter about Munger Hall: "This is an affront to the University and the campus design DNA; not to mention a horrible warehousing of students which could have long lasting psychological affects."

Timberlake指向Alfred TWU的线程伯克利的政治家,建筑师,和商业artist, who notes the site is squished between an airport and a hazardous waste collection center.


Alfred Twu


Typical plan“class=



House Plan“class=



Bedroom Cluster“class=


However, the eight student rooms are set up around a "bedroom cluster" with a kitchen, a communal study table, two bathrooms—probably not enough by today's standards—and no windows. It might be like living on a submarine or one of thosepost-apocalyptic underground bunkers我很喜欢showing on Treehugger

在所有的这些,我们have discussed the importance of natural light. Treehugger's Russell Maclendon has describedthe concept of biophilia: how "the mere sight of a tree or a houseplant may seem unlikely to offer any significant benefits, but thanks to a growing body of scientific research, it has become clear the human brain really does care about scenery — and craves greenery."

我们指出的研究谈论了观察性质的生理好处,以及观看自然如何对急性精神压力的恢复产生积极影响。And students are under a lot of mental stress.

Windowless study area in bedroom cluster“class=
Windowless study area in bedroom cluster.


还有昼夜节律的问题。根据Nobel Prize Committee, which gave an award to researchers in the field, "a large proportion of our genes are regulated by the biological clock and, consequently, a carefully calibrated circadian rhythm adapts our physiology to the different phases of the day."

We have written often about how windows are the key to keeping our bodies tuned to circadian rhythms. In the age of LEDs, you can do this with artificial lighting, but manyare arguing that windows are better。根据启发工程协会的雷切尔·菲茨杰拉德(Rachel Fitzgerald)和凯瑟琳·斯特克(Katherine Stekr)的说法:“我们知道伟大的日光设计,最佳形式的昼夜灯光形式可以促进更健康的工作场所。”

Private Room“class=
Private room.


I经常引用海伦·桑德斯, who wrote for The Construction Specifier that "lack of sunlight during the day and too much artificial illumination from screens or electric lighting at night can cause circadian rhythm disruption that, in addition to causing poor sleep, can alter moods and cause depression or long-term health problems." Or as daylighting designer Debra Burnet notes, “Daylight is a drug and nature is the dispensing physician.” Should we be messing with this, with 4500 students' brains?

rooftop amenities“class=
Our Town in the Sky.


学生们确实可以进入“天空中的城镇”,这是一系列便利设施,包括胃袋,健身房,果汁吧和学生可能需要的健身中心,因为他们没有吸引人的楼梯可以攀登。我想知道the Fitwel peoplewould have to say about this building.



Our town in the sky even has a landscaped courtyard sort of open to the sky but totally surrounded by building so there are no California breezes.

Recreation room“class=


There are many other issues and concerns that arise when you pack so many people together in such a tight space. Timberlake reminds Treehugger that "no doubt this mass block has high ventilation and air quality challenges in a zone, micro-climate, where reducing energy footprints would make sense."

Passive House expert Monte Paulson told Treehugger: "We’re doing a Phius building of tiny suites (post-homeless) in Santa Cruz. It’s shocking how mild the climate is. But still needs high ventilation rate, as all dorms & microunits do." The ventilation and cooling requirements for this building will be huge.

student residence in Heidelberg“class=

DGJ Arkitectur

There are other ways of doing this, albeit at lower density. Architect Michael Eliason shows Treehuggerthe work of DGJ Arkitektur, which did a student residence out of mass timber in Heidelburg. It is obviously a completely different scale, housing only 174 students, but it has four students in private rooms (all with windows) sharing a common area and one bathroom, with access to an exterior corridor, a design feature that Charlie Munger actually likes.


“On one level I actually wondered if this was the University trolling the city a bit for not allowing new housing because it was so egregious. 'See? You wouldn't build housing so these are the lengths we must go to house our students now.' There was a really interesting freak out on a German website, that nothing close to this would be anywhere close to legal for human rights issues."

Reverend Louis Tucker

This is not the first time we have shown giant cube buildings on Treehugger, having previously discussed the Cubic City (in my archives here)路易斯·塔克(L德赢版本下载ouis Tucker)牧师的1929年科幻小说故事,他指出,如果您不需要窗户,就可以将很多人打包到一个很小的空间中。它都是机械通风的,并具有特殊的照明。我指出:“氦气管。与阳光完全相同的质量和强度。”

I concluded: "There was not a lot to learn from the Reverend Louis Tucker about urban design that we did not know already: that going vertical is very efficient thanks to elevators and that you can pack a lot of people into a smaller amount of land, leaving the rest for parks and recreation and food." Munger Hall doesn't even give us that; it is surrounded by an airport and toxic waste.

Pennsylvania Hote“class=


A hundred years ago, architects knew how to pack a lot of people onto a site: You would build a podium with all of your public shared uses, and then build what I would call an E-shaped form on top of that.

Pennsylvania hotel plan“class=

Hotel Pennsylvania

Every room had a window. There wasn't much of a view, just into another room, and the air quality wasn't that great when you opened a window. But it was the law at the time.

section 31 law“class=

通过Mark Vallianatos

It was a good law. Mark Vallianatosnotes on Twitterthat "in August 1923, 4 and 1/2 months before Charles Munger was born, California consolidated its apartment, hotel and dwelling Acts into a state housing act which required windows in most rooms, certainly in every bedroom."

有人建议,我们目前的技术,无论是通过良好的通风还是昼夜节照明,也许是时候从中继续前进,抢下我们将获得的材料,效率和周边墙的节省。也许蒂姆·麦考密克(Tim McCormick)是对的,我们应该考虑一下。

But not with 4,500 young people trapped in a giant cube. This isn't some kind of Munger Games.

Finally, the last word goes to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation—it manages the estate of the great architect Paul Rudolph, who was certainly capable of thinking big and understood megastructures.

  1. “Brown, Daniel K. et al. "查看自然场景会积极影响急性压力后自主功能的恢复。“Environmental Science & Technology,卷。47,不。11,2013,pp。5562-5569。,doi:10.1021/es305019p

  2. Jo,Hyunju等。“观看性质的生理益处:室内实验的系统评价。“International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,卷。16, no. 23, 2019, p. 4739., doi:10.3390/ijerph16234739