GADGETS

The architect says that the design of billionaires’ homes is a dangerous experiment


The picture for the article entitled Architect says that the design of the billionaire's bedroom is a dangerous social and psychological experiment

Photography: Nati Harnik (AP)

Upcoming Santa Barbara University students will soon move into the distorted mind of the 97-year-old billionaire: a deadly 1.68 million square foot windowless trap that UCSB describes as a “dormitory” designed by Berkshire Hathaway vice president and apparently rising architect Charlie Munger.

Santa Barbara Independent reports that architect Dennis McFadden resigned from the school’s design review committee in protest of the planned Munger Hall, calling the 11-story mixed-use cell of academic halls and inward-facing sections a “social and psychological experiment” with unknown impacts on thousands of subjects in the years to come. It will house up to 4,500 students, 94 percent of whom will sleep in cocoons equipped with what looks like artificial sunlight panels and wall-mounted beds, which will spend their formative years meandering through eight-bedroom containers. Like rats. McFadden said the building has only two entrances (!) And that it is unclear how accessible all the exits are in an emergency or how robust the ventilation system is.

The picture for the article entitled Architect says that the design of the billionaire's bedroom is a dangerous social and psychological experiment

Illustration: UC Santa Barbara

The place will stink.

(U Media Release, UCSB does not display pictures of dormitories but Independent got some views.)

When you need to go up for oxygen and sunlight, the UCSB in a press release points out that the walled “yard” on the roof offers benefits such as “natural ventilation” (air) and “open view of the sky” (freedom, illusion).

UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang called it an “unprecedented residential experience.” Prison is similar, only you pay rent here. It has retail space. And academic halls. And food.

They will never have to leave.

The university has already moved forward without a vote or approval process because Munger has the money, the Santa Barbara Independent reports. Munger paid the school $ 200 million to allow him to install his creation on campus as long as they adhered exactly to his designs.

In a bitter letter to campus architect Julie Hendricks, McFadden said no research had been presented to examine human casualties, that it would represent the eighth densest settlement on Earth. It is, he wrote, “unsustainable from my perspective as an architect, a parent and a human being.” He repeats the justice of George Bailey, except in a world where the banker only pays for everything, and that’s the end, and people live in Mungerville, which is the right location. Per a Wall Street Journal report about his architectural endeavors:

Although Mr. Munger has never formally studied architecture, he has experience in real estate development in Southern California. He built a community of luxury properties on the beach called Sea Meadow in Montecito, California, in the 1980s and 90s, which his friends call Mungerville.

But people love Charlie Munger, a friend of Warren Buffett and investment sage. There must be a lesson from this. First, there’s the good old, cheap, and fast rule, and you can’t have all three; this is cheap and fast. It’s every floor just assumed for 20 days of construction, and the university praises the concept of a modular assembly unit for savings.

Or, if you work hard enough, one day you will get a fire escape.

Gizmodo has contacted UCSB, Munger and McFadden for comment and will update the post if we get a response.



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Naveen Kumar

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