Seminary Co-op Bookstore floor plans

Hedberg Maps first came in contact with this bookstore when it published a map of the University of Chicago and the Hyde Park neighborhood, in 1984. The Co-op became one of the map’s biggest sales points, and was a driving force behind the most recent editions. In 2007, Jack Cella at the bookstore approached us about making a new floor plan. More than most bookstores, the Co-op needed it: it was housed in the basement of a hundred-year-old building, and its labyrinth dodged steampipes and ducked down stairs. It also has one of the largest collections of academic books in the world, and every available nook and cranny was used. It was like shopping in a submarine.


It was important to me that the floor plan reflect the antique character of the building, which while only about a hundred years old, basked in gothic detailing. So I took a page from plans of medieval churches I’d seen in college art textbooks: I used hatching for columns and walls, and antique lettering. But it needed above all to be clear. I ended up designating four routes to different parts of the store, which were color-coded. We named rooms, so people at the front desk could put specific words to their directions. The co-op ended up using these color-coded routes, painting them on the floor itself,

In 2013, the store moved to a new, much more spacious location, in a local modernist icon. I designed the floor plan for their new space in the same spirit of clarity.