Charles Munger—billionaire, Warren Buffet confidante, and the man behind UCSB’s “windowless” dorm—dies at 99


Charles Munger—billionaire, Warren Buffet confidante, and the man behind UCSB’s “windowless” dorm—dies at 99

Charles T. Munger (Nick Webb/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Windowless” building partisan Charles Thomas Munger died peacefully yesterday at a California hospital. He was 99 years old. News of his passing was confirmed in a press statement by Berkshire Hathaway, the Omaha, Nebraska company he helped build with Warren Buffet. Munger is survived by his seven children.

“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, stated.

Born on January 1, 1924 in Omaha, Nebraska, into a family of lawyers and politicians, death announcements by CNN Business, Reuters, and Barrons each recalled Munger’s business prowess and boot strap demeanor that made him rich. In Bloomberg, Noah Buhayar described him as Buffet’s “altar ego, side kick, and foil.”

Architects may know Charles Munger for different reasons, namely Munger Hall, a UC Santa Barbara dorm he gave $200 million to build. The 12-story building drew controversy for its lack of bedroom windows.

Munger Hall (Courtesy UCSB)

Architecture critics, faculty, students, and parents grabbed their pitchforks and called upon Munger’s architects—Van Tilburg, Banvard, & Soderbergh (VTBS)—to go back to the drawing board. Over 14,000 people signed a petition to stop it. Dennis McFadden, a member of UCSB’s design review committee, resigned from his post out of protest after holding his position for fifteen years. Facing backlash, UCSB pulled the plug on Munger Hall—what some refer to as “Dormzilla”—earlier this year.

Shrugging off the naysayers, Munger went on the offensive by placing his vision on the same pedestal as Le Corbusier when he compared Munger Hall to Unité d’Habitation in Marseille. “You’ve got to get used to the fact that billionaires aren’t the most popular people in our society,” is how Munger responded to the critics. “I’d rather be a billionaire and not be loved by everybody than not have any money.”

His 12-story, 4,500-bed, artificially lit Leviathan in Santa Monica, came to embody the “bottom-line driven ethos of corporate philanthropism that often prioritizes quantity over quality; and the sad state of academia where, thanks to funding shortfalls, universities must bow to whoever can pick up the tab.”

Despite his unflinching commitment to building Munger Hall, Charles Munger divested from it last summer and concentrated his focus to warning investors and crypto-traders against the perils of Bitcoin.

Munger leaves behind a net worth of $2.7 billion.