In November 2021, plans for an 11-story, 1.68 million-square-foot dormitory building at the University of California Santa Barbara were revealed and quickly drew backlash from numerous leaders in the design community. The project, Munger Hall, designed by billionaire investor Charlie Munger, has been called “dangerous,” “a monstrosity,” “a social and psychological experiment with an unknown impact.”
The primary target of criticism is the designer’s bold choice to greatly limit access to natural daylighting and views for the building’s occupants. While the dorm is intended to house 4,500 students, 94 percent of them would not have access to windows in their compact single-occupancy bedrooms.
How could such a proposal find traction when study after study shows that humans require access to both natural daylighting and views to thrive? To ensure that people can live, work, learn and play in healthy, high-performing environments, all spaces they inhabit—from homes to schools, and offices to shopping malls—must provide ample access to natural daylight and views.
This article features leading voices in the industry, educating about the role of natural light and views on human health and performance, and discussing the essential role of glass in daylighting design. Read insights from Lisa Heschong, a leading daylighting researcher, and from the glass industry’s Adam Mitchell of AGNORA and Helen Sanders of Technoform.
What the Studies Show
Source: The National Glass Association’s Benefits of Daylighting and Views fact sheet (download).
In numerous studies, the benefits of daylighting and views have show improved health and productivity for occupants in all building types. Some highlights:
- 21 percent increase in student test scores
- Improved student behavior
- Increased teacher retention
- 20 percent increase in employee performance
- 39 additional work hours per year in employee productivity
- Reduced absenteeism and turnover
- Decreased employee sick days
- Reduced post-op recovery time
- Reduced length of mental health hospital stays by 2.6 days
- 22 percent less pain medication in post-spinal surgery patients
- Reduced depression, improved sleep
- Improved hospital staff performance
- Reduced medical errors
- Reduced HVAC costs with high-performance glass
- Increased real estate values and rent
- For additional daylighting resources from the National Glass Association, visit glass.org/resources/market-intelligence/daylighting.
Daylighting Task Group
NGA's daylighting resources have been developed with the support of the Daylighting Task Group.
- Technoform (chair)
- NSG Group
Watch NGA's webinar Glazing: An Integral Part of Biophilic Design