Billionaire Charlie Munger responds to criticism of his mostly windowless mega-dorm project: ‘I’d rather be a billionaire and not be loved by everybody’

Charlie Munger
Charlie Munger is Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner and Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Lane Hickenbottom/Reuters
  • Billionaire Charlie Munger donated $US200 ($AU266) million to the University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • In exchange for the money, Munger’s blueprints for a nearly windowless mega-dorm cannot be changed.
  • The design has been lambasted by critics, which Munger dismissed this week.

Billionaire Charlie Munger isn’t hearing criticism of his blueprints for a 4,500-student mega-dorm project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“You’ve got to get used to the fact that billionaires aren’t the most popular people in our society,” Munger told MarketWatch. “I’d rather be a billionaire and not be loved by everybody than not have any money.”

Critics have blasted Munger’s plans for resembling a prison more than a student dormitory: Over 90% of the building’s 4,500+ occupants would live in windowless rooms, which Munger believes will encourage interactivity among students.

The project hinges on a $US200 ($AU266) million donation from Munger, which includes a clause that says his plans cannot be changed. The dormitory, which is named “Munger Hall” in honor of the billionaire’s donation, is expected to cost about $US1.5 ($AU2) billion in total.

The massive dorm was lambasted by UC Santa Barbara consulting architect Dennis McFadden, who resigned from the project, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. In his resignation letter, McFadden said he couldn’t support the plans “from my perspective as an architect, a parent, and a human being.”

But despite one of the school’s consulting architects quitting in protest over the plans, Munger is sticking to his guns.

“I think the building will be a huge success,” he said. “It’s hard to get any two architects to ever agree about anything. Architecture is a game of trade-offs.”

And Munger isn’t the only one shrugging off critics of the mega-dorm.

“The Munger Hall project and design is continuing to move forward as planned,” a spokesperson from UCSB told Insider last week. “We are delighted to be moving forward with this transformational project that directly addresses the campus’s great need for more student housing.”

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