A first look inside Blackwell Hall, Berkeley’s newest freshman living space

Berkeley's newest residence hall, David Blackwell Hall, will open to freshman in August. (UC Berkeley photos by Brittany Hosea-Small)

Berkeley’s newest residence hall, David Blackwell Hall, at Bancroft and Dana (stretching to Durant), will open to freshman in two weeks. (UC Berkeley photos by Brittany Hosea-Small)

David Blackwell Hall, the first new residence hall to open at UC Berkeley since 2012, is a living space for more than 700 students full of patios, study rooms, bike racks, ping-pong tables, exercise machines and — if you’re lucky enough to live on the west side of the building — million-dollar views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline.

Construction started 18 months ago, and building will be open for freshman move-in on August 14. The new residence hall is named for David Blackwell, the first black professor to receive tenure at UC Berkeley and a preeminent statistician who died in 2010.

Berkeley News was among the first visitors to the new building, which is in the final stages on construction. We took pictures and captured 360-degree images to let students, staff, faculty and alumni explore the building for themselves.


Each student room will have two beds along one wall, with private cubbies for a desk and two closets on the opposite side. A mini-fridge and microwave will sit in a space between the beds.

A student dorm room is set up and ready for incoming students during a tour of Blackwell Hall at UC Berkeley on Monday, July 30, 2018.

A student dorm room is set up and ready for incoming students during a tour of Blackwell Hall at UC Berkeley on Monday, July 30, 2018.

Here’s a 360-degree view of an almost-done double room. The rooms were designed to give students a sense of personal space and privacy.

Scroll with your mouse or finger to take a tour of the room. (360 images by Stephen McNally)

   

Each of the eight floors also has common spaces for studying and socializing. The study rooms have flat-screen televisions for presentations or movie nights, private conference rooms for group projects and acoustic paneling to keep distractions down.

This is the view from the top-floor study room, with views out to San Francisco.

   

There’s also plenty of room for hanging out. Each floor has two communal social rooms with ping-pong or pool tables. Here’s an example of one of the social spaces.

A study lounge waits to be finalized during a tour of Blackwell Hall at UC Berkeley on Monday, July 30, 2018.

Blackwell Hall is a LEED Gold building, and was designed to conserve water and power. Lighting systems in common areas will use technology to automatically dim when no one is nearby, and a rain-catching system — shown below — will stop rain water from overwhelming Berkeley’s sewer system.

Five larger planters in the center of the building are seen from the eighth floor during a tour of Blackwell Hall at UC Berkeley on Monday, July 30, 2018.

Each floor has three resident advisers who get to sleep in single rooms, six gender-neutral bathrooms and three washers and three dryers. The time to wash and dry clothes can be reserved online.

Blackwell Hall also has community spaces on the first floor, including a gym. The first floor houses Stiles Hall, a campus community service center, and two retail locations that could be leased to restaurant or cafe owners.

The new David Blackwell Hall student dormitory is equipped with a full workout facility.

And there’s a big living-room space for residents that opens ont an interior patio.

The main common room on the first floor can be rented by students for large social events.

   

The walls are decorated with art, including old vinyl records.

Artistic records fill one wall of the Academic Success center in the new David Blackwell Hall student dormitory building during a tour on Monday, July 30, 2018.

Some of the bedrooms and study rooms have amazing views of San Francisco Bay.

Views of the neighboring buildings can be seen from a study lounge on the eighth floor during a tour of Blackwell Hall at UC Berkeley on Monday, July 30, 2018.

There’s also plenty of secure bike parking for students.

Emoty bike racks wait to be used in the bicycle lock-up during a tour of Blackwell Hall at UC Berkeley on Monday, July 30, 2018.

With move-in day looming, work crews are putting the finishing touches on the building, including installing hundreds of mini-fridges and microwaves.

Crews work to unpacks rows of microwaves and mini-fridges in preparation for incoming students.

Rosemarie Rae, UC Berkeley’s chief financial officer, said opening David Blackwell Hall was a key part of Chancellor Carol Christ’s plan to add 7,500 new beds to campus housing over the next 10 years.  Berkeley currently houses the lowest percentage of undergraduate students of any UC campus. Blackwell Hall was developed through a partnership with American Campus Communities, a Texas-based developer specializing in student housing.

“The completion of David Blackwell Hall, a public-private partnership between the university and American Campus Communities, signals a new era of housing development at Berkeley,” Rae said. “We celebrate this important step forward in delivering on the chancellor’s commitment to expanding access to safe, affordable and convenient housing for students.”

Contact Will Kane at willkane@berkeley.edu