UC Santa Barbara

Planned residence hall at UC Santa Barbara should undergo redesign, panel says

Dec. 27, 2022
Critics have dubbed the planned 3,500-student project "Dormzilla."

 A proposed student housing project at the University of California Santa Barbara presents a potential health and safety risk and should undergo a “robust redesign” with more windows, ventilation and bedroom space, an independent review says.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the project — a massive building dubbed “Dormzilla” — is aimed at addressing the university's housing shortage, which has forced some students to live in hotels and even their vehicles.

The original project design featured 4,500 beds in small rooms — most without windows — in an 11-story warehouse-sized building. The proposal drew widespread criticism, but was favored by the project’s funder, Charles Munger, who donated $200 million in seed money for the residence hall that will be named for him.

Planners have since modified some elements of the design of Munger Hall, reducing the number of beds to 3,500 and dropping the height by two floors. But many more changes are needed, the review asserts, citing particular concern for the risk of transmission of Covid-19 and other diseases in the dense quarters.

“Research and analysis weighed by this Panel reveal significant health and safety risks that are predictable enough, probable enough, and consequential enough that it would be unwise for [the university] to proceed without significant modifications to the design,” according to the report by an independent 13-member panel of faculty and other campus and community members.

In response, the Munger Hall project team said it was working with architects to add more windows where possible, additional ventilation shafts that will enable students to cook in their suites and greater airflow in the common rooms.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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