Whenever I give a tour of Carlson to a prospective student, I like to start with a "fun fact"; my favorite fun fact is a rumor I heard on my own tour last year: Carlson, a very uniquely-shaped building, was designed to look a bit like a boat, because Mr. Carlson himself was a big fan of sea-faring activities (which makes his residency in the land-locked Minnesota a bit of a conundrum), nonetheless, the building was built in the late nineties with the tip of its bow pointed to the heart of downtown.
More than being a neat building, Carlson is the most perfectly-placed institution in the Twin Cities metro. Being here, it feels like absolutely everything is the mythical "five minutes away." The college-vibe of dive bars? Five minutes to the east. The happy hours for the business people of downtown? Five minutes to the west. Funky ethnic eateries and live music? Five minutes to the south. And the calm upper-middle class feel of Midwestern suburbia? You guessed it--five minutes to the north. All of these areas are fantastic-fun to explore, and we certainly like to show them off, but there are others spaces you hear less about.
A sometimes-overlooked asset of Carlson (just one of many) is the prime location on the West Bank. The West Bank is one of the most culturally diverse areas in the state, and is home to some of the most interesting and one-of-a-kind things to do. For example, just outside the doors of Carlson is a large green building (and we're not talking a muted-type green, but rather a vibrant can't-miss-it kind of green) that is home to the African Cultural Center, and more importantly for students, the Afro Deli. Afro Deli is delish ethnic food, very cheap, and very popular (their most popular dish is called "chicken fantastic" for a reason). Down the street is a funky dive bar with bocce ball tournaments in the summer. Home-baked Chinese treats are at Keefer Court, loads of talents hiding in the Mixed Blood Theatre, every outdoor activity in the history of the world is in Midwest Mountaineering. Town Hall Brewery is a popular lunch destination and the Republic bar's happy hour is crazy-popular among students (especially when it's warm enough to sit on the patio). An all-you-can-eat-for-$7 Ethiopian buffet, cultural centers and a coffee house overrun (in a good way) with hipsters. Seriously, there is so much hiding on the West Bank that even I haven't seen it all (and I'm going on my third year of living and studying here).
What I'm trying to say is, Carlson is great, incredible in fact (see previous blog posts for evidence), but as great as it is on its own, it's even better in the context of Minneapolis. My suggestion: drop by a visit, take a walk around town, and fall in love (it's inevitable).
Want to learn more: thewestbank.org