Smile Politely

A Building, a Feeling, and a Latrine: Vibes & dinosaurs

Time for another B/F/L. Let’s jump right in!

520 Neil

Okay, first of all, the best thing about 520 Neil is that it prevents me from seeing The Quarters from certain directions.

A street corner with a three story brown building with orange and white accents. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

My disdain/befuddlement regarding The Quarters was documented all the way back in the very first B/F/L. I still don’t understand why it looks the way it does, but at least now it’s not alone on that block between Neil and Hickory.

Although I’m sure The Quarters and 520 Neil are very similar in terms of internal construction, they could not be more different in terms of exterior “personality.” In fact, they remind me of the odd couple beach houses that went viral a few years back.


Two apartment buildings frame an alley. The building on the left is yellow with white trim and small rectangular windows. The building on the right is brown with balconies. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

While the outside of The Quarters makes it look like a dollhouse-themed wedding cake, the outside of 520 Neil is uh…well it’s almost entirely corrugated metal, and nothing says “luxury living” like corrugated metal.

A close up of the exterior of the brown apartment building. It is sided with corrugated metal. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

To be fair, the front of 520 Neil does look a bit more interesting. It’s got lighter grey bits and even some brown bits!

The apartments in 520 Neil have REAL BALCONIES, in stark contrast to the silly fake balconies of The Quarters (which are really just protective railings that I’m not confident could hold a person’s weight). However, if you were actually standing on any of the balconies on 520 Neil, all you’d be able to see is the entirety of The Quarters, so that’s not great.

An alternate view of the two buildings and alley in between. This one with the brown building on the left and yellow on the right. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Finally, I wasn’t able to see it myself, but one of the amenities advertised for 520 Neil is a rooftop patio! I love a good rooftop patio and this one certainly seems to uh, have lots of room to play Twister on it. Guess you could bring your own chairs up there if you wanted.

A rooftop of a building. The roof is flat and gray, and surrounded by black fencing. There is a small brown extension of the building with a door leading inside. Photo from 520 Neil website.

Photo 520 Neil website.

VERDICT: I think I would have preferred it if 520 Neil just looked exactly like The Quarters except in a robin’s egg blue. As it is, having these two right next to each other is a bit jarring.

Giving the “World Famous” Urbana Puzzlesaurus a Hug

There’s been a lot of news happening this summer, but you’d have to be living under a rock to not have heard about CU Adventures in Time and Space getting their own life-size triceratops. The “World Famous” Puzzlesaurus now greets all who enter CU Adventures’ sprawling adventure complex. 

I met Puzzlesaurus recently after completing an escape room. You’re not allowed to climb on Puzzlesaurus, but you can certainly give her a hug. I did, and I urge you to do the same if you get the chance.

The author is wearing khaki shorts and a navy blue t-shirt. He is leaning into and hugging a large statue of a triceratops. Photo by Andrea Black.

Photo by Andrea Black.

VERDICT: 10/10 hug every dinosaur you find. I recommend hugging this one on a warm day so Puzzlesaurus seems more lifelike, but not a hot day, or you’ll scald your face and arms.

The Men’s Room at Hamilton Walker’s

Hamilton Walker’s definitely has a vibe that it’s going for. If you check the website, you’ll learn that the vibe is “chic 1940’s Hollywood,” which I think parts of the restaurant certainly evoke better than others. Let’s take a look in the men’s room and see how well it fits the theme.

First off, with its white/grey tile and light blue walls, this restroom feels much more bright than the rest of Hamilton Walker’s. You’re greeted immediately by this piece of art. I like having art in bathrooms, but I wish there was more art in here than just these hats and hands.

A frame art piece hangs on a gray wall. It shows hands holding black and gray hats. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Two urinals and two stalls, that’s a lot of potential users in here at once! HamWalk’s seems committed to getting you in and out of the bathroom efficiently so you can get back to your meal, and I appreciate that.

Two white urinals are side by side on a gray wall with a divider in between. The floor has square gray and white marble tile. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.
Two bathroom stalls with dark wood doors that are partially open. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

I also like when a bathroom gives you some reading material while you’re taking a wiz. While using this restroom I learned all about HAMILTON WALKER’S EXCLUSIVE HANDMADE PREMIUM VODKA. 

A flyer with a bottle of vodka and text is behind clear plastic, hanging on a gray door. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

The sink area is nice, but the chevron tiles plus the marble countertops is a lot to take in visually.

A marble counter with a dual sink. There are oval shaped mirrors over each sink, hanging on a gray and white chevron patterned wall. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

The thing I like best about this bathroom is the inclusion of a full-length mirror.

A dark brown framed full length mirror hangs on a gray wall. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Every bathroom could use this, but it’s especially important here. If I’ve come to HamWalk’s for dindin, I probably dressed up a bit, and I want to take a good look at myself and how cool I look before I return to stuffing my face full of crab cakes.

VERDICT: Does this bathroom make me feel like I’m in 1940s Hollywood? No. It is however very clean and nice. An upper-tier downtown Champaign bathroom for certain.

Stay cool kiddos, another column coming your way next month!

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