Seminary Co-op Bookstore at University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

The Co-op membership and its Board had cherished the maze-like nature of its 50-year-old basement bookstore which the University planned to relocate aboveground to the 10,000-square-foot first floor of a 1960s-era former dormitory now rental office complex. The desire to maintain the feeling of "getting lost in books," led to the creation of several budget-minded repurposing strategies:

* Six "figural voids" configured by birch bookcases are canted to reestablish a labyrinthine character. 
* Light reflecting ceiling squares suspended above bookcases and below exposed existing building systems create intimate spaces for browsing. 
* Bookcase "windows" encourage customer interaction. 
* Colorful display spaces created by bungee cords wrapped around bookcase ends. 
* Famous booktable showcasing University authors is reintroduced.

The character of the bookstore and café becomes immediately visible from the street through new extended floor-to-ceiling glass window-walls. An ADA accessible ramp circumambulates a gingko tree in a reconfigured landscape. A fireplace embedded within glass-clad display cases welcomes visitors in the building lobby, while book-like colorful carpet tiles cover gaps in the bookstore's existing terrazzo floor. A carefully created area for book-signings and lectures overlooks the street. The Plein Air café with patio faces Frank Lloyd Wright's neighboring Robie House.

Architect of record

Stanley/Margaret Tigerman/McCurry
Tigerman McCurry Architects
444 N. Wells Street, Ste. 206
Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Phone: 312-644-5880
Fax: 312-644-3750

General contractor

Aaron Reilly
Riis Borg
1010 N. Hooker Street, Ste. 200
Chicago, IL 60642, USA
Phone: 312-733-7553
Fax: 312-733-5371

Consultant 1

Ken Panucci
Primera Engineers Ltd.
100 S. Wacker Dr., Ste. 700
Chicago, IL 60606, USA
Phone: 312-606-0910
Fax: 312-606-0415

Consultant 2

Emily Klingensmith
Schuler Shook
750 N. Orleans Street, Ste. 400
Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Phone: 312-944-8230
Fax: 312-944-8297


Steve Hall
Hedrich Blessing Photographers
400 N. Peoria Street
Chicago, IL 60622, USA
Phone: 312-491-1101
Fax: 312-491-1112

Photographer 2

Tom Rossiter
Tom Rossiter Photography
2615 N. Wilton Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614, USA
Phone: 312-543-8233