International House Berkeley

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Coordinates: 37°52′10.28″N 122°15′7.23″W / 37.8695222°N 122.2520083°W / 37.8695222; -122.2520083

International House at the University of California, Berkeley
I-House Berkeley front.jpg
Official Opening: August 18, 1930
Type: Students Housing and Residence
Location: 2299 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley, California, 94720-2320 USA
Capacity 579 residents
Director: Hans C. Giesecke, PhD

The International House, Berkeley is a multi-cultural residence and program center serving students at the University of California, Berkeley. According to the International House, its mission is to foster intercultural respect, understanding, lifelong friendships and leadership skills for the promotion of a more tolerant and peaceful world.

International House, also known as I-House, is a dormitory for advanced undergraduates, graduate and professional students and visiting scholars. The House was created as a gift from John D. Rockefeller Jr. specifically to foster relationships between students from different countries. It is notable for having housed many famous artists, scientists, and scholars connected with the university.

The House is the subject of a documentary called "The Visionaries: International House", which was aired by PBS stations across America. The documentary, hosted by Sam Waterston, highlights how the International House on the Berkeley campus has served as one of the largest, most diverse, residential, global communities in the world.[1]

The International House has several rooms and lounges that overlook the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. Nearly 600 international and American students from 70 nations live in the house during the academic year.


International House Berkeley was part of a larger "International House movement", founded by Harry Edmonds. Edmonds decided to investigate the situation of foreign students in New York City. With the funding and support of John D. Rockefeller Jr., the first International House opened in New York in 1924.

Edmonds and Rockefeller decided to extend the idea. Berkeley, California was selected given the Bay Area's role as a point of entry from Asia and Berkeley's enrollment of the largest number of foreign students on the West Coast.

When the idea of International House was first proposed to the Berkeley community in the 1920s, there was considerable resistance -- resistance to coeducational housing; foreigners living in the area; and a racially-integrated setting.

When Harry Edmonds came to Berkeley to establish a site, he chose Piedmont Avenue location in part owing to the concentration of fraternities and sororities which then excluded foreigners and people of color. By proposing this site, Edmonds sought to "strike bigotry and exclusiveness right hard in the nose."[2]

Designed by noted Bay Area architect George Kelham, International House Berkeley officially opened on August 18, 1930. It was the largest student housing complex in the Bay Area and the first coeducational residence west of the Mississippi.[3]


According to the International House, its mission is to "foster intercultural respect and understanding, lifelong friendships and leadership skills for the promotion of a more tolerant and peaceful world." The House believes it achieves its mission by providing students and scholars from the United States and around the world with an opportunity to live and learn together in a challenging and supportive residential and community-oriented program center.[4]

Notable alumni[edit]

The International House, Berkeley was home to six Nobel laureates and one additional member:

The International House has also been home to many ambassadors and politicians, including:

Other notable alumni include:

Also of note, nearly one thousand alumni of the house have married another resident of the house.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Visionaries, Inc., Season 9
  2. ^ International House, International House Berkeley Historical Background
  3. ^ International House, International House Berkeley Historical Background
  4. ^ International House, About the International House
  5. ^ International House, Notable Alumni

External links[edit]