Our Department

Some Information About Our Department…

UC Berkeley Campus Map

UC Berkeley Campus Map

The Department of Spanish & Portuguese is located at 5319 Dwinelle Hall, the second largest building on the University of California, Berkeley campus. It was completed in 1952, and is named after John W. Dwinelle, who was the State Assemblyman responsible for the “Organic Act” that established the University of California in 1868. He was a member of the first Board of Regents.

Although many myths surround the odd construction of the building and its annex, it was designed by John Galen Howard and built in 1920. From 1920-33 it was used for Military Science, and from 1933-58 it was used for Music. During these periods of use, it was called the Military Sciences Building and the Music Building. Some remodeling was done in 1933 to accommodate the music department, and in 1949 it was enlarged to include a music library. Dramatic Arts and Comparative Literature moved into the building in 1958.

More recently, the College Writing Program occupied the top floor, and the annex is currently occupied by the Center for Theatre Arts.

Dwinelle Hall Myths

Dwinelle Floorplan

Dwinelle Floorplan

Dwinelle Hall’s maze-like construction has led to the fabrication of many popular myths involving its construction. Besides the many myths that involve a tragic freshman who enters the building and never manages to find his way out of it, there are three popular myths surrounding the building:


The first says that two brothers were contracted to design the building, each given a different section. One died before completing his section, leaving the other brother to complete the project.

Another version has the architect brothers getting into a “huge fight”. They decided to design the building separately, which is why the levels are different and don’t meet.

The third story is probably the most often told. The two brothers simply hated one
another and built without consultation or cooperation.