Swirling controversy over the University of California, Santa Barbara’s proposed plan to add billionaire real estate investor Charles Munger’s massive self-designed dormitory to its Out of stock student housing was addressed by the university in a campus-wide Q&A released yesterday in which it addressed “misconceptions” about the design features of the project and doubled down on its reasoning and overall necessity .
Last week’s revelation that architect Dennis McFadden stepped down in early October after a college planning meeting prompted a heated letter to the design review board, making waves on our discussion board and even landing the UCSB in national news organizations in part on Munger’s close ties to billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
University officials did not respond to McFadden’s outrage over his questionable contingent approval process, but were able to issue some sort of defense in the form of a self-prompting answer sheet that claimed that the building would in fact be up to code, safe for students, and located on lower ground in a Bowl that would be both appropriate and comparable to other structures on its 1,127-acre campus.
A prompt question gave a glimpse of the most noticeable flaw in the 1.68 million square foot proposal intended to accommodate more than 4,500 students. The university said the floor plan was based on a traditional “house system” model and included “significant access to natural light and fresh air ventilation” and emphasized the argument that it included 1,000 exterior windows and had more than a few perimeters. outward facing units.
The UCSB addressed the bewildering lack of windows in the interior residences, saying the approach “allows more student rooms and facilities on site” and reiterating its claim that the dormitory common areas all had ” large exterior windows, and therefore significant access to natural light. “
Statements made by the project team also chided reports of McFadden’s claim that the dorm has two paltry entrances, indicating that the correct number is actually fifteen – a more sensible amount for similar sized dorms, according to the university. Another prompt responded to concerns about the “design philosophy” behind the building raised in the architect’s letter, saying:
“Again,” the statement continued, “the University recognizes that this community and cohabitation experience and environment is not suitable for all students. That is why there will be many other housing options, both on and off campus.
The rest of the responses were more used to promote the sustainable concept of building and use it as an alternative to off-campus housing in the more expensive neighboring communities of Santa Barbara County.
The UC system as a whole is going through a severe housing shortage crisis that has consumed campuses up and down the coast, much like the global crisis that is affecting Californians statewide.
Archinect will post further updates as they become available. The university’s full public Q&A can be found here.