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Munger Hall: Megadorm or Megamistake

By: Kai Bauer-Seeley

I am no stranger to UCSB’s housing problem – I lived in a hotel 9 miles away from

campus for an entire quarter last year. But at the Sandpiper Lodge, I had a window, a

roommate, space for my belongings, space to walk.

None of these “amenities” will be offered to students at Munger Hall, the proposed

megadorm to fix UCSB’s housing crisis. With construction planned to begin this year

and be completed in 2026, Munger Hall will be a 9-story, 3,500 bed residence hall with

unique (to be polite) floor plans.

The first floor of Munger Hall will be a multipurpose center with a restaurant, market,

study room, mail room, and theater. The top floor will consist of a gym, a recreational

center, a classroom, three reading rooms, and a second market. Sounds good, right?

Sure, unless these floors are only there to make up for the inhumane conditions of

Floors Two through Eight. Each of these seven middle floors will be made up of eight

“houses,” each of which will be made up of eight suites. Each suite will contain eight 70

square-feet single bedrooms. These bedrooms will be windowless; only 6% of the

bedrooms of Munger Hall will have any access to natural light.

Image of a Munger Hall Single Bedroom With an Artificial Light Panel

Before we get to my opinion as a graduating Gaucho, let’s see what the experts have to

say. In November 2021, an independent panel was formed to review the proposed

design of Munger Hall. The panel was made up of UCSB professors, an architect, a

psychologist, and a student representative. The panel finished its review in October

2022 and released a 200-page report to the UCSB Academic Senate and Chancellor

Yang in November 2022.

The report cites academic literature and surveying to support its main finding: that the

proposed design of Munger Hall will most likely have significant negative effects on

future UCSB students’ mental health. The report includes a particularly terrifying section

titled “Massiveness and Density: Prison-like Design,” in which the word “prison” is used

41 times to describe Munger Hall.

The views expressed by the independent panel reflect a consensus in the international

architectural community. In 2021, architect Dennis McFadden resigned from UCSB’s

Design Review Committee, which he had been on for 15 years, to protest the

university’s decision to move forward with plans to construct Munger Hall.

McFadden did not mince words following his resignation, writing that “As the ‘vision’ of a

single donor, the building is a social and psychological experiment with an unknown

impact on the lives and personal development of the undergraduates the university


The “single donor” McFadden is referring to? 98-year-old Charles Munger, vice

chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and amateur architect. Following the release of the

independent panel’s report, Munger spoke about Munger Hall, the megadorm that he

designed himself and committed $200 million toward financing.

Addressing the UCSB housing crisis, Munger opined that “... Munger Hall and other

buildings like it would immensely help that situation, so of course it should be a totally

uncontroversial project. You can hardly imagine anything that makes more sense.”

This quotation illustrates why Munger is so unqualified to architect a college residence

hall. He clearly doesn’t understand the potentially catastrophic ramifications of his

proposed megadorm.

Image of Munger Hall

I am graduating from UCSB this month, but once upon a time, I was a newly 18-year-old

freshman living in the dorms. I lived in a triple, and while my roommates and I generally

got along, we dealt with many issues along the way. One of my roommates would never

turn off his alarm. The other’s girlfriend slept over every night of every week, and the

two of them would often keep me up at night.

For those out there who support Munger Hall’s single bedroom design because its

residents won’t have to deal with roommate problems such as the ones I dealt with,

guess what? That’s life. I am thankful I was presented with challenging situations as a

freshman in the dorms. They prepared me for challenging situations I have faced over

the last three years, situations with much higher stakes. And the lessons that I learned

as a freshman in a triple dorm room will help me post-graduation, as a (hopefully) future

homeowner, husband, and father.

My two freshman roommates were also my first friends at college. We went to the dining

hall together, the gym together, and we made new friends together. I am an extrovert

now, but coming into college, I was nervous and anxious about meeting new people. I

don’t know how many friends I would have made as a freshman if I lived in a single

bedroom by myself.

I do know that my mental health would have suffered. I would have been relieved to be

sent home toward the end of winter quarter 2020, instead of sad and disappointed to

leave my friends and the campus that I quickly learned to love.

Of all people, I understand how real UCSB’s housing crisis is. As a freshman, I lived in

the dorms before being sent home because of the COVID-19 outbreak. As a

sophomore, I lived at home for the whole year. As a junior, I lived in a hotel room for a

quarter, in Washington, D.C. for a quarter, and in a freshman dorm for a quarter. This

year, I pay $850 a month to share a garage with three other people in a 17-person

house for which monthly rent is $20,000.

UCSB’s most pressing concern is finding housing for its current and future students.

Adequate housing. Munger Hall is inadequate. Its design is inhumane and it is not the

answer. If constructed, it will cause an additional and much greater problem.


1. Alfred, Mark. “Nexus Explained: Munger Hall.” The Daily Nexus, 3 Nov. 2022,

2. Bach, Trevor. “‘It’s All Horseshit’: Charlie Munger Reacts to Critical UCSB

Report.” The Real Deal, 21 Dec. 2022,


3. Gordon, Aaron. “Independent Review Panel Finds UCSB’s Dormzilla ‘Unwise’

and Poses ‘Significant Health and Safety Risks.’” VICE, 21 Dec. 2022,


4. Hayden, Tyler. “Architect Resigns in Protest over UCSB Mega-Dorm.” The Santa

Barbara Independent, 28 Oct. 2021,


5. Kitayama, Grace. “UCSB Pulls Back Curtain on Giant Munger Residence Hall

Mock-Up.” Noozhawk, 30 Sept. 2022,


6. Walsh, Niall Patrick. “Updated Munger Hall Images Show Two Floors Removed

as Controversial Project Seeks Approval.” Archinect, 21 Oct. 2022,


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