Expanding into 14 Beacon allows us to maintain and enjoy the historic library we love while building a vision of the future BA we want to create.
From the purely functional (more and better places to display our collections, more spots to settle with a book) to the aspirational (a reading room for non-member visitors to get a taste of the delight we feel here), our additional space will allow us to continue to grow our collections, our membership and our programming.
Our physical expansion will allow us to continue growing in relevance and meaning to the community and make the most of the momentum we’ve been building. Leveraging the expanded array of our collection spaces, meeting rooms, events, and venue rental possibilities, we can broaden our revenue streams. Author readings, book and publishing receptions, parties and weddings, and community events are just a few potential avenues.
Features we look forward to sharing with you include:
The Lobby: The BA’s lobby will be an approachable, inviting space. The entrance will be streamlined and the coat racks and lockers will move to their own space. Fresh light fixtures will brighten the space and a new all-glass lift will enhance accessibility.
The Front Desk: The Front Desk will be pushed back to create an open and welcoming space. More natural light will flood into our entry rooms, creating a warmer feeling of welcome and inclusion.
The Children’s Library: This will be redesigned to focus on our youngest readers under six. A dedicated children’s librarian will emphasize the joys of literature and learning. Features like crawl spaces, sitting areas and mobile bookshelves will increase flexibility and make the space more comfortable.
The Bayard Henry Long Room: Improved technology and acoustics for presentations and other programming will make lectures and other gatherings more accessible, inclusive, and fun. Author talks and lectures on literary gems will now sing with acoustic clarity and visual upgrades—both for in-person viewers and those at home.
The Leventhal Room: With its huge windows overlooking the Granary Burying Ground, the Leventhal Room will be an inviting lounge space to read a book and soak up the collections in new display cases. We will open this to visitors as well as BA members. The furnishings will be entirely new, with a focus on comfort and style to read, talk, and eat. The room can be reconfigured as an event space with seating capacity for 110.
Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery: This space will have a more functional layout than the current gallery and additional square footage. Its modularity will allow the Curatorial team to feature various special collections and exhibitions uniquely every time. Other additions include dedicated storage space and flexible ceiling lighting.
A Cafe: The brand new cafe is designed to be a social hub: a lively meeting place for BA members and visitors to nibble on flaky croissants while sipping an expertly-brewed coffee and discussing a new book; an inviting refreshment spot and afternoon respite for passersby. The ultimate welcome center, it will be an energetic, lively locus of conversation and relaxation, introducing many more people to all the Athenæum offers.
Study Center: On the second floor, the current Print Room will be thoughtfully reconfigured to increase and enhance engagement with our collections. The study room will allow academic research cohorts, school field trips, and special docent tours to experience our collections up close. Dante Alighieri’s verse, for example, won’t seem so abstract, and cartes de visite from the Harriet Hayden albums will convey their full meaning and power when visitors engage with them in person.
Members Living Rooms: The Members’ Living Rooms are designed for cozy comfort with an inviting and intimate feel. Connect, read, and relax while enjoying spectacular city views, a water-vapor fireplace, recessed lighting, and comfortable and elegant furniture. The space will offer an upgraded pantry and four dedicated phone booths for members. In short: a retreat within a retreat, where members can sink into their BA experience and feel truly at home.
Reading and Study Alcoves on 4 and Upper Pilgrim: Alcoves currently used for office space in 10½ will be restored to reading nooks. The large desk in the fourth-floor bow room will be removed and the Director’s office will become a reading nook and passageway into the members’ living room.