Maybe Sunday: It’s Always Sunny in Chicago

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“Is it cloudy outside? Maybe Sunday. Are you in love? Maybe Sunday. Grandma’s ninety-second birthday? Maybe Sunday. Is it Friday, yet? Maybe Sunday.

So said McKenzie Thompson and Jason Guo, Maybe Sunday co-founders, when they presented their newly established company on Kickstarter just a little more than a year ago. Thompson and Guo, both then-recent graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), decided to blend fashion, design and contemporary art to create a Chicago-based streetwear line that features full-bleed photographic patterns on a variety of high-quality fabrics. Their initial collection included shirts, scarves and hats in a variety of designs with names such as Liquid Sunshine, Girl Scout Cookies, Lemon Dropper, Last Night’s Party, The Art Historical and Sugar Crush, featuring close-ups of gummy bears, cigarette butts, sun-yellow lemons and clear blue skies.

Their flagship store, which represents numerous emerging and established artists and designers, is located on Halsted Street in Pilsen’s Chicago Arts District and is a space of bright white walls and a poppy-filled, fake grass turf floor. There the temperature is always kept at seventy-five degrees and the idea that the grass is always green is very much alive.

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All Aboard Renovation: The Remaking of Union Station, Part II

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Great Hall, Union Station. Photo credit: Velvet, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Great Hall, Union Station/Photo: Velvet, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

By Alan Mammoser

In a previous article, we looked at how one of Chicago’s great unappreciated places, the Great Hall of Union Station, will be restored to its intended role as an elegant passenger waiting area through a joint plan from the station’s owner, Amtrak, along with the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), Chicago’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Metra.

The improvements, called “medium term” as part of the Union Station Master Plan, will go to the guts of the station, realigning tracks, widening platforms and opening new platforms with a waiting area beneath them. Stairways going directly down to the platforms will open on Jackson and Canal Streets. All this should relieve crowding for a few years and put a new gloss on the old station.

“This plan will just get the station up to a minimum acceptable level, simply a state of good repair,” says Richard Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. “It hardly begins to provide what’s needed for the future.” Problem is, there’s not enough money—even for the medium term fix. So for now, agencies have promised funds only for preliminary engineering and design.

What Harnish and other rail advocates want is a new strategy, one that strives to lift Union Station into the ranks of the world’s great train stations.

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For the Love of Bow Ties: Peter Gaona of Reformed School

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PhotobyRigouVasia1By Vasia Rigou

Peter Gaona is a contemporary dandy. His nuanced exploration of contemporary sartorial expressions and masculine style manifests in a mix of vintage and modern pieces via his company, Reformed School. The Chicago-based outfitter brings handmade bow ties to the fashion forefront, fusing old-school craftsmanship with secondhand materials and modern style.

Like many independent-minded bow tie wearing men, Gaona, doesn’t believe in “one size fits all.” When he had a tough time finding a denim bow tie, he took it upon himself to change the situation. “I decided to make my own,” he says. “I played with a number of options and decided to cut up a pair of old jeans and leather pants to fashion the tie. Whenever I wore the denim tie, people asked where they could get one.”

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A Lot You Got to Holler, Episode 2: Cabrini-Green Dreams and Nightmares

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Cabrini-Green in Demolition

Episode 2: Cabrini-Green Dreams and Nightmares

Depending on who’s telling the tale, the Cabrini-Green housing projects on Chicago’s Near North Side are either patient-zero for urban dysfunction and decay, or a humble high-rise utopia, Corbusier’s Radiant City with soul. But at the end of the day it was home to 15,000 people. Cabrini-Green was mostly demolished by 2011, but its legacy both haunts, or enriches, the city, depending on who you ask.

Listen to the full episode here.

Chic Chicago: Interviews with Style (Bloggers)

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In this series we will be featuring some of the movers and shakers of our fashion culture. We’re starting with the best-dressed ladies of the local blogosphere.


Dani McGowan of Mermaid Waves
Instagram: @mermaidwaves

Blogging since? December 2013
Why did you start blogging? I felt like I had a new and unique perspective on style, as a fifteen-year-old, that I couldn’t find on other blogs.
What do you love most about blogging? How much blogging pushes me to try new things! I’ve become much more confident since I’ve started my blog.
Favorite fashion blogs and magazines? The Blonde Salad, Refinery 29 and Nylon Mag. Read the rest of this entry »

Image of The City: South Side Students Map a More Complete Chicago

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By Taylor Holloway

One evening last winter, traveling south on the Stony Island, I witnessed a Chicago I had never seen before.

As we sped past Jackson Park and the Museum of Science and Industry, I noticed an almost instantaneous change. We had crossed the continental divide—not formed from tectonic plates, but by institutionalized ideas of separation. Having called Chicago home for six years, I’m ashamed to admit that I was seeing a Chicago I did not know.

The vacant apartment buildings and roughly paved parking lots that adorn Stony Island reminded me of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, a site I witnessed in the spring of 2006. That winter night in Chicago, I was dumbfounded by how our world-class city could so suddenly resemble a neighborhood located below the water line of the Pontchartrain.

How can the city look like this? How far are we, I thought? Eight miles southeast of the Loop. I tried to imagine what eight miles north of the Loop looked like. Uptown doesn’t look like this. Uptown can’t even imagine what eight miles south of the Loop looks like.

That night, I wondered how we could envision a new way to map Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing the CTA Wright: The Transit System Remapped via Frank Lloyd Wright

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By Gregory Maher

Along the coast of England, just north of London, Dr. Max Roberts lectures in psychology at the University of Essex. His research focuses on “the individual differences in the strategies that people use to solve problems, their causes and their consequences.” His research into cognitive psychology—and the underlying processes of problem solving and reasoning—has led him to the schematics of transportation and the maps which represent these systems.

Roberts takes each system as a challenge and an opportunity for optimization through design. Having mapped systems from Vienna to Tokyo, Chicago caught his eye as an opportunity to pay tribute to the geometric aesthetic of Frank Lloyd Wright. Pale, milky, like sunlit glass, his map of the Chicago El system envisions each line through a stained-glass pattern, with each station as a singular panel.

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Chicago Looks: Trash Into Treasure

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Artist, blogger ( @trashylvania) and future biomedical researcher Lizzie Astrosludge—aka Trashylvania—was waiting for the Milwaukee Avenue bus.

Why “Trashylvania”? What do you consider trash and why do you like it?
I came up with the name “Trashylvania” around 2009, which popped into my head when I was thinking about the destructive nature of living in a disposable culture that is all too quick to make hasty waste out of anything deemed conventionally and terminally useless, whether it’s a candy wrapper on the ground or a suffering person. I felt it suited me for having a lifelong background of extreme poverty and growing up struggling in a dangerous neighborhood. I mainly had everything secondhand, and repurposing everything I had was, and continues to be, a source of personal pride and fulfillment. I suppose I really took the proverbial “turning trash into treasure” practice to heart. In a light, personal philosophical sense, I see “trash” as a deservedly bold reclamation of not only my roots, but as a testament to my efforts and triumphs over years of self-loathing and perceptions of worthlessness for so much of my life, often due to direct oppression and harassment by authority figures. Read the rest of this entry »

A Bad Case of TIF: Cuneo Hospital and the Value of Landmarks

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Photo: Friends of Cuneo

Photo: Friends of Cuneo

By Andrew Vesselinovitch

Cuneo Hospital, on the corner of the block where I live in Uptown, has been vacant since before I moved into the neighborhood five years ago. The hospital is located at the intersection of Montrose and Clarendon, with nothing but parkland (and a highway) between the hospital and the lake.

Why would such a desirable site remain unused?

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Demolishing History: Helmut Jahn, Gene Summers and The Threat to Chicago’s Postmodern Legacy

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Thompson Center. Photo JohnPickenPhoto via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Thompson Center/Photo: JohnPickenPhoto via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

By Philip Berger

This past October, Governor Rauner announced plans to unload the Helmut Jahn-designed James R. Thompson Center. Shortly thereafter, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin called for the demolition of McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center, designed by Gene Summers of C.F. Murphy Associates, ironically a progenitor of JAHN. Although these polemics appear to come from different places, they reflect parallel trends in attitudes toward Chicago’s architectural legacy, and signal new frontiers in ideas about historic preservation.

Most landmarks schemes require buildings to be forty or even fifty years old for any sort of historic designation and protection. While neither the Thompson nor the Lakeside Center meet that age requirement, the discussion surrounding their respective fates is raising important questions about the future of architectural preservation in Chicago: when do we appreciate the recent past sufficiently to consider it “historic” and worthy of protection? The question seems particularly relevant at a time when change often seems incomprehensibly rapid.

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