Billionaire investor Charlie Munger, the vice chairman at Berkshire Hathaway, has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to build a windowless dorm for 4,500 students at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). What is interesting is, Charlie has no formal education as an architect. However, he has previous experience through a similar project he completed at the University of Michigan. There he built a windowless dorm for 600 students. And, when CV-19 hit, some students did not see sunlight for about a week. Others have complained about poor ventilation and the lack of natural air that caused headaches. But, of course, there were many other complaints as well.
A rendering shows the proposed Munger Hall at UC Santa Barbara, which would house more than 4,500 students. The exterior windows shown would not reach most of the dorm rooms on the interior — 94% of the units would not have windows.(Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh)
The University of California Santa Barbara (USCB) windowless dorm project is worse than the University of Michigan because the light will be 94% restricted. And they are following through with the deal. Basically, Charlie says, his money, his way, or nothing. As a result, his idea is thought of by others as disturbed, absurd, and crazy. It is so insane that it caused Dennis McFadden, an architect and member of the UCSB design review committee of 15 years, to resign. McFadden said that this was the wrong answer.
So, when you think about it, it is the wrong answer for health, mentally and physically. Natural light is so essential that it improves the functioning of our body to be healthy and productive. Without sunlight or natural light, it creates many severe and negative impacts, not just for some but all.
Natural light affects our cognitive ability, health, and happiness.
Natural Light Release Serotonin and Melatonin
Sunlight and darkness release certain hormones in your brain. Sunlight releases a hormone called Serotonin. It works by helping you to relax, stay calm, and focus. It also stabilizes your mood. And when night falls, the dark light releases Melatonin- the hormone responsible for helping you sleep. Minimizing the release of these hormones disrupts your circadian rhythm and sleeping patterns. This makes it difficult to know when to wake up in the morning because the circadian rhythm acts like an internal clock. Without natural light and darkness, the clock is broken. A student at the University of Michigan complained about difficulties waking up in the morning, feeling she felt like she did not know what time it was.
Natural Light Controls and Affects Circadian Rhythm (CR)
The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that controls the adjustments and changes in your body and brain. When not functioning correctly, it leads to mental, mood, and behavioral changes for the worst. For example, it affects focus, memory, and attention. In addition, the lack of exposure to natural light causes high cortisol levels, leading to diabetes, obesity, and depression. Physically, it affects your immune system exposing you to constant illness and flu.
When the CR is out of sync, your health will suffer.
Natural Light Provides Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for health, and most people don’t get enough. You can only get Vitamin D from natural sunlight and not artificial light. It is not the same.
Natural Light Reduces Strain on the Eyes
In the modern world, you are constantly exposed to the blue lights of your computer and cell phone. Sitting near a window with natural light helps to diminish the blue light effect on your eyes. It helps the eyes strain less.
Furthermore, many studies in architecture have shown that workers and students exposed to natural light improve mood, focus, and productivity. The studies also show that the workers and students had a good night’s sleep.
Charlie Munger and UCSB should take the time to understand how to improve academic and student experience and education, not turn them into science experiments. It does not make sense why the university is subjecting students to the ignorance of one man’s vision that will produce harmful effects- socially, academically, and physically. There are already too many pressures that exist in the university. Over the years, many incidences of violence and student tragedies have occurred due to academic and social pressures causing unbelievable outlandish behaviors. So, imagine how a windowless dorm will only exacerbate them further.