Money Talks? UCSB Dorm Project Scrutinized
Dennis McFadden, a respected architect and member of UCSB’s Design Review Committee, has resigned from the Committee in protest over the university’s proposed Munger Hall dormitory project.
As a long-time Santa Barbara architect, community resident, and fan of UCSB, I am writing to add my objections to the Munger Hall “Mega Dorm” currently proposed for the UCSB campus. At almost 160 feet tall, it would be a gigantic cube on the campus housing 4,500 students, many of the dorm rooms without windows to the outside.
The building was conceived (misconceived?) by billionaire Charlie Munger, who donated $200 million to the project, apparently on condition that his plans be exactly followed. Whether or not this is accurate, he clearly has the power position in this situation to revise what are blatantly inappropriate and offensive plans.
This would not be the first time a major project donor has dictated architectural design, but this particular project seems monstrously overscaled, inhumane, and without precedent. If UCSB has indeed so far chosen to accept Dennis McFadden’s resignation and continue to support the project as designed, the Santa Barbara community should stand up and challenge their decision before it is too late.
America’s Embarrassing Moment
Early in the pandemic, health authorities pointedly told Americans “Don’t wear masks.” Some even said, “Masks won’t help.”
The unstated reason why? Federal and state governments, corporate America, and the public health system were not prepared. No one had made and stored enough masks for an epidemic. The few available masks were now needed for health care workers and other frontline defenders.
The authorities were concealing the truth, using a tactic called dissembling— neglecting to mention an important detail.
In covering their large behinds, and in treating the American electorate like children who are not capable of understanding grown-up people talk, the nation’s elders sowed the seeds of the mask resistance that later took such a heavy death-toll on the country.
This incident in our national history teaches us two things. First, our leaders and leading institutions are more concerned about their careers and their bank accounts than about the safety and health of Americans. If they were not, they would not feel the need to cover-up their mischief.
Second, we need to promote public-spirited people to leadership positions in industry and government rather than private-spirited ones.
Can America rise to the task?
Our Incredible Fire Team
Many thanks to our Fire Chief Kevin Taylor and our Wildland Fire Specialist Nic Elmquist for volunteering their time at the recent SCAPE art show, Climate + Art = Change. As part of a panel with retired Santa Barbara Fire Chief Pat McElroy and UCSB Professor Leila Carvalho, Chief Taylor and Nic greatly expanded our understanding of fires, and how our climate is changing their behavior. This was a hugely instructive panel, and I came away feeling we are very lucky to have these treasures in our community. It is clear they dedicate themselves to the care of our land and our safety.
Climate Reality Project