The building is operated by Edinburgh University Students' Association. The name "Potterrow" recalls a mediaeval suburb which stood outside the town walls. Its Victorian buildings and street layout disappeared when the University demolished the area for redevelopment in the mid-1960s.
Potterrow contains a variety of student entertainment and support services including two shops, a cafe, Edinburgh's largest nightclub, two banks, the University's Chaplaincy and the main EUSA offices.
During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, the building is used as a comedy venue with five performing spaces known as the Pleasance Dome.