Living in Blackwell Hall — Cal’s newest dorm!

David Blackwell Hall
My home for the 2018-19 school year!

I really lucked out last year. I didn’t know too much about Blackwell when our housing app was due. As it was still under construction when our application was due, I didn’t really have anyone’s past experiences or pictures of the inside. But still, I heard it was going to be new, so my roommate and I took a risk and applied to Blackwell. Few months later, we got our first choice! A Blackwell hall double.

Blackwell is a 8 story building with 7 floors of residential units. I currently live on the 6th floor which has an amazing bay view!

The Goods:

Blackwell definitely has a lot more study rooms provided for us. As a building with about 700-800 residents, we have 3 study rooms per floor. Two are dedicated to quiet studying and the third, a social lounge area. There’s also a study and sitting area by the elevators as well. There’s always space to study, but sometimes people are a bit loud in the rooms. The study lounges have large windows with great views and whiteboards for collaboration! The first floor also has a huge academic center with a lot of tables and sitting areas, as well as a soundproof meeting room and a movie/presentation room.

I really like the lobby area of the building. It’s somewhere you can just sit on the couch and wait for people or work on some things while you have a short gap throughout your day.

There are laundry rooms on each floor, which makes it a lot easier to do your laundry than having to go to a communal laundry location. It does get filled pretty fast during weekends though, so I try to go on odd days and hours.

Comes with micro-fridge — no need to pay extra for this!

The extra street lights around the corner of the buildings make me feel safer while walking at night. A lot of other dorms and apartments don’t have these extra lights.

All Buses stop right across the street, either on Durant or Bancroft. You can really get anywhere without walking too far.

As someone who doesn’t like keys, I’m so glad that Blackwell operates on a key fob system. All you need to do to get into the elevator or your room is swipe your teardrop shaped fob on the scanners.

Elevators. We have three! Attested by all other guests that have come through Blackwell, we have the fastest elevators of all the halls. Sometimes they break down, but there’s always at least one open.

I love that the inside of the rooms have hardwood (? or some other wood-like material) floors. As someone who is prone to spilling drinks and food all the time, this makes it easier to clean and I am assured that there isn’t any dirt or food hidden in the carpet.

There are ping pong and billiard tables all throughout the building. Each floor 2 through 8 has one of the two tables, and the lobby has both. You do need to check out the equipment for playing at specific hours of the day, but usually they are available to play!

The Ok’s:

The inside of Blackwell is like a hybrid of a modern, minimalistic cafe with pops of color and a hotel. The lobbies, floors, and academic centers have modern furnishing and bright color palettes. I like the decoration of the building, but sometimes it looks like a hotel and very cold.

Heavy doors. The doors are very heavy — or maybe I just need to do more pushups. While they close very quickly, if you want to leave it unlocked they slam very loud.

Because every floor of Blackwell is so big, I don’t really get to see or talk to anyone beside the few people that live near me. I know in some of the units, entire floors are really close to one another, and I feel like you don’t get that experience at Blackwell as much.

Most double rooms are in a vertical fashion: It’s really nice and separated like you have your own room, but one roommate will always have to walk through the other roommate’s side.

Distance — definitely close, but so so far from NE side of campus, and an uphill workout if you want to get to class up there.

The Bads:

THERE IS NO KITCHEN! I was so set in college to learn to cook food, but unfortunately we don’t have any kitchens made available to the students.

A lot of areas there’s an emphasis on aesthetics, rather than functionality. For example, the study rooms don’t have many lights and gets a little too dim sometimes. There are also more couches than there are actual tables and seats available.

The windows were made to open only a few inches from the top. So you can’t ever just open the window when you want to.

There aren’t any shower lockers so you need to bring your things with you each time. It was a bit annoying but you get used to it.

The desks don’t have any drawer or shelf space. Actually, there’s barely any drawer or shelf space in the room. I currently just stack up my books on top of each other by the foot of my desk.


Despite all my qualms about living here that I’ve listed, I still love living in Blackwell! I feel like it’s very comfortable and has a lot of privacy for each student, while you’re still able to live in a residential hall with all your incoming class’s students. I am a bit sad to be leaving this dorm room very soon, but I’ll always cherish the memories I’ve made in this building!

Author: Jiyoo Jeong

Hello! My name is Jiyoo and I am a second year at Cal studying Business, Statistics, and Computer Science. Other than burying myself in problem sets and projects, you might find me writing and drawing while snuggled in bed and watching Netflix or probing through thrift stores. I also enjoy my days when I get to go to SF to volunteer to help increase digital and art literacy and get to spend time on the weekends running a female entrepreneurs accelerator with Berkeley Skydeck! I hope you can read some of my experiences and be inspired to make your own at Berkeley!