Photo Credit: George Etheredge for The New York Times
The Grolier Club, the nation’s oldest society of bibliophiles, just celebrated the centennial of its grand, Georgian-style Manhattan home with an extensive renovation. In partnership with architecture firm Ann Beha, Shawmut reimagined and preserved the space to create a new approach to the club’s exhibitions—with a design that integrates heritage and technology while welcoming new audiences and promoting scholarship and engagement.
Excerpt from The New York Times
The Grolier Club, a redoubt of bibliophiles on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, has no shortage of stately, book-lined interiors that scream — or at least murmur quietly — “serious collectors here.”
The club, which has roughly 800 members, is named for Jean Grolier, a 16th-century French high official and book collector known for commissioning exquisite bindings. The Latin motto on his bookplate — “Io. Grolierii et Amicorum,” or “belonging to Jean Grolier and his friends” — represents the ethic of sharing and sociability the club embodies.
The Grolier was founded at a moment when machine printing and automated type production were degrading the quality of printed books, which in turn fueled an interest in fine printing. The newly renovated exhibition hall, designed by Ann Beha Architects as part of a $4.6 million overhaul, subtly reflects our own era’s similarly mixed feelings about technology and tradition, marrying warm wood paneling with high-tech display cases and, at one end, a large digital display screen.
Artful illumination gives visitors a better glimpse of the shelves of books lining the (inaccessible) balcony, hinting at the atmosphere of the grand library on the third floor. “It pulls the books right down into the center of the room,” said Bruce Crawford, the club’s current president (and a collector of Dickens and other 19th-century authors).