By Margie Shafer

KCBS_740 BERKELEY (KCBS) — A large castle-like building that sits above Memorial Stadium on the University of California, Berkeley campus has re-opened following an 11-year effort.

Bowles Hall is a unique live-learn community. Incoming freshmen are expected to live here all four years. History and Arabic student Matthew Kimani is thrilled to live there, as is Economics student Alexander Szarka.

“It really does look like a castle,” Kimani said.

“It’s by far and away the nicest housing I’ve been aware of in Berkeley. And it’s just so beautiful – the views, the architecture, the interior design – it’s all there,” Szarka said.

The 180 students who live in the residential college had to first get into UC Berkeley – and then get into Bowles – a selection process that left 100 on the wait list.

Alexi Vranich, Research Associate of Archeology and Assistant Dean and Director of Programming at Bowles, explains there are social offerings and built in academic support in the hall.

“The monitoring and tracking of academic progress, to make sure both that students are developing their passions, but at the same time, maintaining themselves on the difficult logistics of making sure they have all their units, classes, and so on, so they can graduate in four years,” Vranich said.

Bowles Hall was renovated thanks to a $42 million alumni-financed restoration.

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