(University of Chicago News Office)

In the mix

The Magazine dashes through the snow from the Magnificent Mile to a refreshed 53rd Street.

From the Magazine’s new offices, you can practically see your food. For the past seven years and change, we’ve reported for duty in downtown Chicago, where Michigan Avenue crosses the river and starts to turn into the Mag Mile. But in December, the Magazine staff, along with several other groups in alumni relations and development, packed our pencils and papers, our plants and cute animal calendars, and headed south to a new glass-skinned University office building at 53rd Street and Harper Court (see “Building Momentum”).

The move puts us steps from, yes, Valois and other mainstays of Hyde Park’s commercial corridor like Rajun Cajun, Ribs ’n’ Bibs, and Harold’s (the lesson seems to be that guilty pleasures endure). We’re just as close to newcomers like Kilwins chocolate shop, the Harper Theater, a Chipotle, a Hyatt Place, and a smattering of restaurant debuts. A 20-minute walk or a quicker shuttle puts us on campus, where we’ll relish spending more time sitting in on classes, attending lectures, and just talking to students and faculty about what they’re up to.

We will when they all get back, anyway. Our moving day fell when exam week was dwindling and campus emptying, and during a short respite between the first two significant snowfalls of the season; there was white stuff on the ground and more expected. The new snow floated down for hours yesterday, layering over the old and retouching the tree limbs. With most students decamped until winter quarter and most residents taking a day of urban hibernation, the streets near my Hyde Park apartment took on a hushed, cloistered feel.

It was a change of pace from a packed autumn quarter that had me looping back, more than anywhere else, to the open-armed Logan Center at the opposite corner of Hyde Park. I trekked there for a conference on classic English novels, a panel on UChicago projects using big data for social good, and a documentary about Benjamin Britten, whose 100th birthday was cause for a UChicago Presents festival.

Heading out after the Britten film, screened on a Friday night, my friend and I passed the Logan café, which was giving off heat as a band headed by blues vocalist Dee Alexander performed. Jammed with a mix of scruffy students and polished locals, the concert was part of the opening reception for an exhibition across the hall, Diasporal Rhythms, about artists of African descent and Chicagoans, including many South Siders, who collect their work.

Right place, right time. The joyful crowd, which included some of the collectors with art in the show, absorbed us for the last song or two, then released us with blues and Britten happily jumbled in our heads. Most of the events I went to this fall, I planned for carefully; this one reached out and grabbed me.

For now, the placidness of week 12 is lovely. But when the noise and surprises and new connections of a fresh quarter start up again from end to end of Hyde Park, we’ll be glad to be in the middle of it full time.