After a Billionaire Designed a Dorm an Architect Resigned in Protest


“Absolutely incredible” is the University of California, Santa Barbara’s plan for Manger Hall, a towering residence for more than 4,500 students, designed by billionaire and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Charles T. Manger. This is the method described.

However, architect Dennis McFadden, who consulted with the university’s design review committee, disagreed. On October 24, he announced in a bitter letter to the chairman of the commission that he would withdraw from the university’s decision to approve the project, which had been compared to a “social psychological experiment”.

He said he was “bogged down” by the design of packing students into the 1.7 million-square-foot 11-story building and living most of them in small, windowless rooms. Mechanical ventilation. ”

“In nearly 15 years as an architectural consultant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the committee has never been given a project larger than Munger Hall that can transform and destroy a campus,” he wrote. I wrote in the newspaper The basic concept of the Manger Hall as a residence for students is not sustainable from my point of view as an architect, a parent and a person.

McFadden’s resignation follows a meeting of the University’s Admissions Design Committee on October 5 to address a shortage of accommodation that must accommodate students in hotels. The university says on its website that Manger Hall will create “better and more affordable” homes with “prosperity and elegance.”

In a statement, university spokesman Andrea Estrada said the design and project was proceeding “as planned”.

Estrada said it plans to work closely with university architects, VTBS Managers and Architects to reduce the number of students who have to live off campus.

He said the project “aims to provide affordable housing on campus that minimizes energy consumption” and is in line with the way universities generally develop housing projects. Ricefield.

Diversity did not mention McFadden’s particular concern.

“I thank McFadden for his input and insights during his time as a consultant,” he said.

In an interview, 97-year-old Manger avoided criticism and said it was just a typical architect joke.

“It’s no surprise that someone looks at it and says, ‘What’s going on here,’” he said on Friday. “What’s happening here is that it works better than any other practical alternative.”

Mr Manger, who is not a licensed architect, said he worked with a licensed architect on the project.

The design is similar to the dormitory where he worked at the University of Michigan. There were no windows on the block either, and the students had their own rooms.

Unlike these homes, the Santa Barbara hostel will have a “virtual window,” he said. Students have buttons they can use to control the amount of artificial light they bring into the room to mimic day or night. Artificial windows that rely on LED lighting to reproduce natural light have been used in enclosed spaces, small apartments, and basements.

“If you want something romantic and dark, you can make it romantic and dark,” says Manger. When did you change the sun in your life? You can do it in this dorm.”

“What a lovely place, that little bedroom,” he added.

He said the idea for the virtual window was inspired by the man-made windows in the cabins of Disney Cruise Lines. “Regardless of what’s better for me,” Manger said.

In his letter, McFadden said that natural light and indoor climate with access to nature improve a person’s physical and mental health.

“Manger Hall appears to be ignoring this evidence and taking the position that it is unimportant,” he said. McFadden writes that the “unprecedented” density and size of the project also do not match the characteristics of the campus overlooking the Pacific coast.

McFadden, design director of design firm LEOADALY, declined to comment. He confirmed he had written a letter announcing his resignation, but said the letter had expired and was not scheduled for publication.

Architectural critics and students seem to agree with Mr McFadden.

One student said he opposed the project because of its height and lack of windows, according to a tape of public comments made on the proposal during a meeting in July.

“Young people don’t always smell good,” he wrote. “Fresh air is very important for students.”

Another student compared the bedroom to an “isolated” compartment.

“They asked students to become depressed and self-harm,” the student wrote. “I’m rethinking this whole plan.”

New York architectural critic Paul Goldberger said the concept was “how depressed UCSB has been since the days of architects like Charles Moore”.

“This design is a weird and evil joke. It’s a prison disguised as a dormitory,” he said on Twitter, Link to the Independent Santa Barbara Design History. “No, designs don’t rely on multimillion-dollar donors.”

Munger Hall is estimated to have cost more than $1 billion and was partially funded by Mr. Munger. Its opening is planned for 2025.

McFadden said in a letter that after the October 5 meeting it became clear that the university was not interested in the Commission’s opinion.

“The design is described as 100% complete, no approvals required, no votes taken, and no additional proposals foreseen or required,” he said.

Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett’s longtime friend and business partner Munger, said he had consulted with a number of licensed architects and other professionals.

“It may not have been consulted, but many others have been consulted,” McFadden said. “It’s not something you do alone with the madman in the room.”

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