Billionaire amateur architect of windowless dorm says artificial windows are better -- they can be set to be "cheerful" or "romantic"

I was in a dorm my freshman year. Tiny (about 3’ between the 2 twin beds, no dresser, the closet rod was 2’ long), but every room had a window. It was the bathrooms and the common rooms that were on the inside of the building (plus staircases and elevators, of course). If you’re socializing with people, being able to look out a window isn’t quite as crucial. And the common rooms had multiple points of egress if needed.

There are ways to create a building complex that can house 4500 students that don’t include doing everything exactly wrong.


Those are emergency exits only, and appear to go straight outside so they would not be usable normally (alarm will sound).

The mail room, market, mechanical rooms, and LAUNDRY room each have more windows than the dorm rooms do.


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Exactly - College can be hell for some people who lack social skills and they will end up spending a LOT of time sitting alone in a windowless room :cry:


Just like the "windows’ of the “rooms” of the facility of that Black Mirror episode.

Fifteen Million Merits - Wikipedia


Because centuries of building sciences, psychology, and history tells us that it is an absolutely terrible idea that will kill people in the long run. We don’t let the rich kill college kids for sport yet.

Density is great. I say this as someone who made a custom print of a diagram of Kowloon Walled City as one of the pieces for my library. This isn’t a good way to provide density. The windowless deathtrap is almost a half mile away from the bulk of the campus, including crossing large parking lots or a bunch of athletic facilities. Simply reducing the size of lot 30 would allow the students to actual have pesky little things like windows and bathrooms. Removing a soccer field would do the same. This is the classic tower in the park approach to density that has almost always failed, just with fewer basic human sustaining amenities.

That’s a great idea for things like aesthetics, not for things that make a building unsustainable in a power outage or risks mass avoidable death in a fire. I’ve stood at the mass grave site for a bunch of kids who died in a fire in a building with insufficient egress and it is a stark reminder that safety codes are written in blood.

Then fix that. Right now Santa Barbara has parking restrictions that require roughly a parking space per bedroom of legally obligated car storage. Their commercial requirements for some uses, fast food included are worse than 1-1. A small zoning change could free up around 10% of land area.

In theory, no. In practice any sufficiently large entity with the will to do so can find the existing flexibility in the codes or get a special exemption.

Sort of. The spot density looks higher, but it is surrounded by parking lots and athletic fields instead of urban Hong Kong. You get all of the downsides of density, but not the upsides.

Hi I’m an urban planner. This doesn’t do that. There’s only one nominally as dense census tract in the US, near West Catlapa West Balmoral and Lakeshore drive and mostly consisting of the Park Towers condos. It is also substantially less walkable than a lot of other parts of the city. The walk score is 84, not bad, but that is almost the same walk score as central Lakewood Ohio or other streetcar suburbs. Even other parts of the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago average 91. When you build a giant people brick, it is rarely the source of density that the first glance at the numbers would suggest, because it lacks integration with the surrounding area. This is no exception.

Generators are great, but you don’t want the livability of a space to be dependent on them. My Master’s capstone was on a project to reduce generator dependence in a relatively small area. I surveyed and talked to a bunch of the holders of EPA permits for larger generators in Cleveland (if you ever want a frosty phone call, call up a nuclear defense contractor and ask probing questions about their electrical system). A sufficiently large generator has some major issues for this. They require tremendous maintenance. The ventilation process is a nightmare. Fail over is problematic without frequent testing. Fuel goes bad. These problems are large enough that almost every business surveyed was willing to pay a substantial premium on their power to not have to deal with that. The only businesses unwilling to do so were life critical ones, which this would become.

There are more than 2, but a lot of them aren’t good for mass movement of people. If you have to go through kitchens or the mech room, they aren’t great.


Try living under those conditions yourself for a month or six, and then get back to us.


At first glance it sounds much like living in a submarine. As the light is artificial I hope they have a good backup power supply.
OTOH, I recall a European concept for turning otherwise windowless buildings into accommodation. The idea was that the units, which were rather like a motel, would have their front (curtained) window orientated to face the hallway. These hallways would be lit in the daytime by skylights. I think they had fibreoptic “receiver” units on the roof and the sunlight was piped down to wherever it was needed. So, in that instance, although you wouldn’t have a room with a view - at least you would have the semblance of natural light.


It strikes me that it’s sort of the anti-Bauhaus… design to terrorize the masses rather than lift them up.




Has anyone mentioned that this human brick would need to have really good ventilation and cooling systems to cope with 4500×350000J/h ≃ 1.6×10⁹ J/h of heat load from all those meatsacks?

You aren’t keeping up on cooling that air, all that heat’s going into the concrete, and that’s a lot of solid thermal mass with a minimal surface area to radiate it away.


Next revision of design:


From the ventilation complaints in his previous dorm, a CO2 monitor would be a good student gift.


they’re paying 1000/ month for the windowless dorms. to me that seems like it’s a revenue center for the university - another way to charge students above and beyond tuition and fees

the university owns the land, and so they set the price. there’s probably not even property tax. just upkeep and maintenance

the tradeoff is probably in administration salaries, bonuses, retirement costs, construction and contracting kickbacks - the students as individuals aren’t the primary focus. ( if they were, they would have windows. )


This guy would be a terrible dungeon master with the most boring adventures.


Remember all those terrible lessons brutalist architects learned about how not to build functional mass housing? Forget that. Let’s make all the same mistakes!


Don’t put too much weight on this. I couldn’t find much in the way of reviews, positive or negative, about Munger Graduate Residence Hall (wow, does UM love a 4-letter acronym!).

State owned property, so no property taxes paid to the city. I’ll add that the last time I looked at the end of 2019, the off-campus apartments were charging about $800/month/bed. Less than UM charges for a bed at Munger, PLUS off-campus apartments are subject to building code, so each bedroom has a real window.


Let’s seal 'em all up & see how he likes it.


If each room had one of these in it, it might be tolerable. But I’m guessing that’s not the plan.


Wonder Warthog wasn’t supposed to be an instruction manual.