LiteraCenter’s logo.

The first coworking space in the country devoted to literacy just opened in the West Loop, and naturally the stairs look like an ascending book case.

That’s just one of the whimsical design elements that decorate Literacenter, the first ever coworking space devoted to literacy. The space is a project of the Chicago Literary Alliance, headed up by co-founders Stacy Ratner and Mike Ban. The aim is to bring the various literacy organizations of Chicago into one place in order to facilitate collaboration, and hopefully create a model for literacy innovation that can be replicated across the country.

“Chicago is known for many things and rightly so,” said Ratner. “But Chicago is not really a city that comes to mind when it comes to literacy initiatives or high literacy rate or really fantastic literacy achievements. We would really like to think that we can change that in our lifetime and beyond.”

“Hopefully this is born in Chicago, shared with the world,” she said.

With that in mind, Ratner, who also is cofounder of edtech company Hooray Learning and nonprofit bookstore Open Books, wanted LiteraCenter to be a space that combines the creative energy of storytelling with the productive energy of a coworking space. Located in the West Loop at 641 W. Lake, the space is brightly colored, adorned with literary puns, outfitted with a flexible floor plan, and scooter friendly.

Here’s a look inside.

Ratner had each of the Literacenter team members choose a book they wanted to see displayed on the staircase.
The welcome desk is made with reclaimed wood from an old barn.
There is flex space used for members who don’t have offices or cubicles.
Scooters with punny literary names are available for members to use to navigate the 22,000 square feet of space.


Literary scooters.
Each of the conference rooms titles are literary inspired.
Word inspiration is everywhere– even on the bathroom stalls.
Colorful cubicles and conference rooms line the space.
The door design was inspired by classic book titles and covers.
A view onto Lake Street from the conference room titled “A Room With A View.”
Here’s a look at anchor tenant Working In The Schools’ (WITS) library.
In the basement of the space, there is a space called Lit Lounge where members can eat meals, host events, or play a game of foosball.
Another look at the Lit Lounge.
Inside Open Books, the bookstore on the first floor of the space.
The first floor of the space holds Open Books, a nonprofit and bookstore previously located on Institute Place.