Like many other UC campuses, UC Santa Barbara is facing a serious housing crisis, so the geniuses in Chancellor Yang’s administration put their heads together and have come up with a solution. What is the solution? THE MUNGER CUBE™.
If you haven’t heard by now, Munger Hall is a proposed student residence building designed by Charles Munger, 97-year-old billionaire investor and right-hand man to Warren Buffett. Munger is donating $200 million toward the $1.5 billion project on the condition that the building is built exactly according to his plans. The building is designed to house over 4,500 students across 11 floors and 1.68 million square feet. 94% of the rooms will not have windows or any natural light.
After an architect on the project quit last week in protest and a subsequent Santa Barbara Independent news article was published, Munger Hall’s controversial plans have quickly picked up traction on national news sites such as CNN, the LA Times, CNBC, and reputable news source, The Onion. A student-led Change.org petition demanding the university rejects the plans gained over 8,500 student signatures in 1 week. But the problem that Munger Hall intended to solve still remains— How can UCSB resolve its massive housing shortage?
One student, Isabella Bunting, 19, decided enough was enough. “If some billionaire asswipe can decide to design buildings with zero architectural experience, why can’t I?”
Bunting is a 2nd year Math major and Underwater Basket Weaving minor at UC Santa Barbara and is the creator of the winning “Bunger Hall” redesign submitted to the UCSB Design Review Committee. “We know how important it is to our community that their voices be heard and taken into consideration when dealing with major university projects like this,” a spokesperson from UCSB stated. “We also don’t like the media getting all up in our business and making us look bad just because we’re ‘incapable of doing our job.’ We were inspired by the College of Engineering’s t-shirt design contest, and quite frankly ran out of solutions for this problem. That’s why we decided to hold a Munger Hall Redesign competition, open to absolutely anyone, (and I mean anybody— we even allowed English majors to enter) to come up with an alternative solution.”
In an interview with Gaucho Marks, Bunting said she originally entered the competition as a joke, stating that “I didn’t expect that the university would place the responsibility of such a huge project in the hands of someone who is completely inexperienced in the field, but all things considered, I guess my expectations were set too high.” Out of 64 total entries, Bunting’s design was selected by the committee to be the best alternative.
A comparison between the original Munger Hall floor plan and Bunger Hall’s floor plan, which was drawn in Microsoft Paint.
Bunting’s design features a floor plan with the same sized rooms, same bathroom-to-bedroom ratio, and same overall shape as Munger’s. It also contains a large inner courtyard, even more rooms than the original design, and forty-three percent more window access. “I’m not an architecture major, but all I did was rearrange the rooms in a donut shape. It’s not that hard to grasp. It’s entirely possible to provide more window access without sacrificing living space.”
Bunting says her “donut” idea was inspired by the geometric principles of “perimeter” and “area.” According to these advanced mathematics principles: the larger the perimeter of a building, the more windows it can have. “You could even just break up the building into a few smaller ones and have the same area that you did before,” she explains. “Hey wait a minute, that would probably work even better than the donut idea. Is it too late to change my submission?”
Last Friday, Munger responded to backlash against his design, saying, “I’m not a bit surprised that someone looked at it and said, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ What’s going on here is that it’s going to work better than any other practical alternative.” But in Bunting’s perspective, practical alternatives are aplenty.
“I mean seriously, sixty-three fantastic other blueprint designs were submitted, many of which were made by practicing architects (and one English major) who wanted to help fix this utter human rights violation.” Bunting continued, thoroughly perplexed, “I don’t even know why they picked my design. I’m completely mystified as to how anyone could have possibly looked at an MS Paint drawing and thought, ‘yeah, this seems good enough to make a building out of,’ but again, I guess I set my expectations too high.”
When asked about the reasoning behind their selection, the Design Review Committee stated, “Isabella’s design showed remarkable ingenuity and freshness, bringing forth a new vision of accessible student living. Her work is inspired and revolutionary, and represents what we as an institution are all about, which is a very circuitous way of saying, ‘we are just as incompetent and unqualified to be in this position as you think we are.’”
In order to avoid more widespread public outrage and a permanently damaged reputation, the Design Review Committee will be revising their construction plans to match Bunting’s design accordingly. “But please don’t tell Ol’ Charlie or else he won’t pay us,” said a spokesperson. “We’re hoping he’ll kick the bucket before he finds out. I’d say chances are looking good.”
Isabella Bunting will be compensated by the university for her work with a fifteen-dollar gift card to Woodstock’s Pizza.