The UC Berkeley residence hall under construction along the block of Dana Street between Bancroft Way and Durant Street is on track to open in August 2018, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.
The residence hall, previously called Bancroft Residence Hall, will be officially named “David Blackwell Hall” after UC Berkeley’s first Black professor to gain tenure. Blackwell Hall will house more than 770 students and will give priority to new students.
Though the new name is “David Blackwell Hall,” the campus housing website has it listed as a “New Residential Hall.”
The bottom floor will house 7,099 square feet of retail space in addition to Stiles Hall, a nonprofit that focuses on engaging campus students with their community through supporting inner-city youths. Stiles Hall owned the building that was previously located on the site. The new residence hall will not include a dining facility but is about one block away from Cafe 3.
“(We were) very happy with the tour,” said Stiles Hall Executive Director David Stark, who was given a preliminary tour of Blackwell Hall on Tuesday. “We’ve really liked the people we’ve been working with so far.”
Since the beginning of construction, Stiles Hall has been located in the basement of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union. Stark said the organization is planning to move into its new space in late July.
Planning for Blackwell Hall began in 2015 as part of a campus effort to help alleviate student housing shortages. Access to more affordable housing has been an official campus focus since the 2020 Long Range Development Plan was published in 2005.
Although the campus has not yet officially committed to any new housing projects, a 2016–17 task force that was created by former chancellor Nicholas Dirks released a draft report detailing UC Berkeley’s master housing plan. Other locations suggested in the housing task force report include People’s Park, the Oxford Tract and a plot of land at the intersection of Channing Way and Ellsworth Street.
Housing projects from every UC campus were outlined in a presentation given by UC Office of the President Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom in December 2017 to the UC Students Association. In the presentation, Blackwell Hall was listed as the only scheduled project at UC Berkeley in the next few years.
ASUC External Affairs Vice President Rigel Robinson, whose office has been working with the campus on student housing, said in an email that UC Berkeley provides the least amount of housing for its students, yet it only has one new project listed.
“The opening of Bancroft Residence Hall is thrilling, but only the beginning,” Robinson said in the email. “It will take much more from both the campus and the city to really put a dent in our student housing crisis. We have both an affordability and a supply problem — we need to tackle both.”