Real Estate

We Really Need to Talk About that Dorm Project with No Windows

Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor
Jessica Fiur, Editor-in-Chief

Student housing design is an evolving art.

What amenities will attract the most renters? How about smart tech? Or offering virtual tours? Maybe taking away windows?

*Record scratch*

*Freeze frame”

I bet you’re wondering how we got here…

Billionaire Charlie Munger (who is not an architect) donated funds to UC Santa Barbara for a mega dorm project—that he designed. The community, called Munger Hall, will cost $1.5 billion, cover 1.68 million square feet and house 4,500 students.

There will be only two entrances. And 94 percent of the rooms won’t have windows.

Many are already comparing the proposed rooms to the guards’ rooms in Squid Game. But that’s not fair. Those rooms had no windows whatsoever. The Munger Hall rooms are set to have artificial windows—like on Disney cruise ships where “starfish come in and wink at your children,” Munger said. “No one can tell it’s not a window.”

This has caused consulting architect Dennis McFadden on the Design Review Committee to quit

Now, when I was a freshman in college, I was assigned to a triple, which was a converted lounge. To make the most of our space, my roommates bunked their beds. But after late nights of “studying,” the top-bunk roommate had trouble getting up to her bed. So we separated the beds, but then there was no space to open our dressers.

The Munger Hall rooms are going to be singles, so that wouldn’t be an issue.

And, while you might go into a cold sweat remembering the past year during the worst of COVID and thinking about what would happen if people were ordered to quarantine again in those rooms, according to NBC News UCSB representative Andrea Estrada said each room will have a continuous supply of fresh air. Estrada also assured that the dorm would comply with fire and building code requirements.

Now, admittedly, this sounds like a strange concept. But, then again, maybe it’s the wave of the future! After all, micro units are definitely a thing. And colleges often have to figure out how to house all their undergrads (like my college did with the converted lounge). This building could really fill a need for the college, allowing students to have their own space but in a safe area. And it could encourage socialization in common areas of the community. 

On the other hand, no windows. (Though after nights of “studying,” maybe students would be delighted to see fish winking at them.)  

What are your thoughts on Munger Hall? I’d love to hear what you think! Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline or @jfiur

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