Smile Politely

A Building, A Feeling, and A Latrine: The Gathering

By POPULAR DEMAND (two real people sorta asked for it) this month’s whole column will be devoted to GATHER — that big building on Lincoln across from the Einstein Bagels.


410 N. Lincoln Ave. (aka GATHER)

I gotta admit, if you see Gather from the west, it looks pretty cool. It’s got that big archway with a real patio on top, plus the northwestern corner balcony/turret thingy which I unabashedly love.

An apartment building with brick along the bottom and columns of windows. In the center is a large opening where you can see through to a courtyard and other apartment buildings. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.
The corner of the same apartment building. It has a rounded wall with an open balcony on the top floor. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Also, wow, a hip cafe? Nice!

The entrance to a cafe. There are glass doors in the center, framed by tall windows. A few small tables and chairs are scattered on the cement patio, and a sign that says BakeLab is in front of the building. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

However, if you look at the building from the other 3 cardinal directions, it just looks like the rest of the horde of five-story apartment slabs that have been built in the last 10 years.

Two apartment buildings in a complex frame a parking lot. There is brick along the bottom, then alternating white and gray siding, with columns of windows. A few cars are parked in the lot. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Ok, I guess that’s not entirely fair. I do appreciate the brick facade on the lower levels. It sets this slab apart from some of the others which are even gray-er. Though even the brick isn’t present everywhere.

Taking a stroll around the building, I like this gear-shaped little table!

Four black Adirondack chairs are in a semi-circle on a concrete patio. There is a round table in the center that has ridges around the outside. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

This park bench that looks like wood is actually steel!

A wooden picnic table with black supports sits on a concrete patio. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

And the weirdly shiny white fence is made of plastic! Hope it’s strong enough to keep them trains out.

A railroad track runs behind an apartment building. It's surrounded by dirt, and there are a few bare trees in the background. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

The best part about the silly name is that it’s an imperative. GATHER.

A rectangular building with brick on the bottom, dark gray siding along one side, and white siding on the other. A sign says GATHER in red letters, read vertically. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

I almost expected it to have an exclamation point at the end like HERE! Put the two buildings next to each other and you’ve got a pretty overbearing sentence.

The south wall sign is in all caps, but the northwest sign is lowercase… why?

A rounded corner of an apartment building, all brick, with an open balcony at the top. On the adjacent wall is the word gather in orange, with a large lowecase g above it. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Also is that the logo? Eight degrees? Or is it like a stylized lowercase “g?” Or maybe just a depressed, orange snowman.

VERDICT: B-  It’s got enough interesting bits to pique my curiosity.


Exploring the GATHER website.

Wait… this place is actually called “GATHER GUEST SUITES?” Has this been a hotel this whole time instead of apartments?

Screenshot from a website. There is a photo of a room with a bed, couch, chair and table, and armoire. There is a large window with with white shades. Screenshot from Gather website.

Screenshot from Gather website.
A screenshot from a website, with photos of Foellinger Auditorium, a woman in a graduation cap and gown hugging an older woman, a group of students standing and posing for a photo, and a lobby with various tables and chairs. Screenshot from Gather website.

Okay, hold on. It’s both apartments and a hotel? But the hotel rooms are also apartments? What the hell?Screenshot from Gather website.

How “immersive” of an experience are they selling here? I guess there is a foosball table in the lobby. That’s pretty collegiate. If I stay in the hotel, will I get invited to all the college parties happening in the building? Are the hotel rooms separated in any way from the student apartments? Dear reader, I spent the better part of an hour digging through the Gather Guest Suites website and I cannot tell.

Okay so, after more digging, I determined that the apartment part of it is now called Yugo instead of Gather? That’s not complicated at all.

A screenshot from a website that says Yugo Urbana Illinois over a photo of a room with a coffee table surrounded by chairs, tall plants in the corner, and framed art on the wall. Screenshot from Gather website.

Screenshot from Gather website.

The hotel website and the apartments website look different but have a lot of the same pictures and the usual sorts of weird and exaggerated messaging around the “amenities.”

24-Hour arcade gaming lounge!

A screenshot from a website. On the right is a menu of options, each with a small colorful icon. On the right is a room with two large arcade games in the corner, a table and chairs, a few round coffee tables, and three blue chairs. Screenshot from Gather website.

Screenshot from Gather website.

Wait, it’s only got two arcade cabinets? Okay, each arcade machine has multiple games, but c’mon, that’s still underwhelming.

Screenshot from a website that offers a list of amenities. It has a white background and dark gray type. Screenshot from Gather website.

Screenshot from Gather website.

I came for the stainless steel appliances, but I stayed for the herringbone floors! Also, WTF is “custom cabinet storage?” You mean cabinets bro? The apartments have cabinets?

Oh, but readers, I was so excited to find out about the hot tub that exists in the big archway patio.

A long rectangular hot tub with dark tiles around the sides and on the surrounding floor. There are several railings around it. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

I may get a room at GATHER GUEST SUITES for one night just to try out this hot tub. A “Rooftop Terrace BBQ & Hot Tub” was definitely not part of my real life college experience.

My favorite discovery from exploring the websites for Gather and Yugo is the floor plans. They both have floor plans for the apartments/suites, but for whatever reason they’ve tried to be fun with the room labels.

A floor plan of an apartment. The words GATHER, CHILL, and SCRUB are used to label different parts of the space. Screenshot from Gather website.

Screenshot from Gather website.

The living room is labeled “GATHER.” The bedrooms all say “CHILL,” and, my favorite part, the bathrooms just say “SCRUB.” I wish the whole building was called SCRUB! Finally a bathing-themed hotel/apartment complex in Urbana!

Anyhow I would re-label these as “NETFLIX,” “SLEEP,” and “SHIT” respectively, in the name of accuracy.

VERDICT: These ain’t my favorite sites on the ole’ world wide web, but at least it got me off of Twitter for a while.


The men’s room in the lobby of GATHER

When I first entered this bathroom, I was worried for a moment that I wouldn’t have much to write about. Everything is gray and white. The walls are completely bare — but then I saw this faucet:

A stainless steel faucet in the shape of a rectangle, with sensors for water and soap. A hand is under the faucet with water coming out. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

I should say, not just a faucet. After some experimentation (the iconography wasn’t exactly clear) I determined that the left nozzle is for soap, the middle is water, and the right is an air dryer. Amazing! Futuristic! Difficult to take photos of! This thing’s pretty cool, but also whoever bought this bit of hardware for this bathroom is an absolute sucker. I must assume that when any of these three nozzles breaks, the whole unit has to be replaced. Or more likely, GATHER will just replace parts of it with stand-alone bits. Can’t wait to check-in on this in four years when just the left corner says “out of order” with a cheap, crappy, plastic soap dispenser taped to the wall as a replacement. It’ll be beautiful.

The best part of this bathroom though is this tilework right under the sink.

A black and white mosaic tile floor. The word WASH is spelled out in black, with a black rectangle framing it. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

WASH! Just to make sure nobody forgets! This is so charming, and unlike the faucet, it’ll never go out of style. The classic hex tiles make it even more charming. A real missed opportunity here though, because there ought to be similar tilework by the toilet that says “WIPE.”


Well, that was a very deep dive into one weird place. Hope you enjoyed it, readers. I’ll see y’all next month!

Top photo by Tom Ackerman.

Related Articles