Behind the Scenes: Ath Architecture 101

March 25, 2021

Dive into the history of the Athenæum 200-year-old building with Board president Jonathan Bell. Board President and architect Jonathan Bell explores the architecture of the library’s Benefit Street home, including the original 1838 building designed by William Strickland, the 1914 edition by Norman Isham, and the 1978 expansion by Warren Platner.


Jonathan F. Bell, AIA LEED-AP is an architect and educator in Providence. His office does a range of work, including adaptive reuse, residential, and research projects. Prior to founding his own office, Jonathan was co-founder and principal at DUAL, and has enjoyed working with many not-for-profit, university, and residential clients during his career. Jonathan also teaches in the Interior Architecture Department at the Rhode Island School of Design, and has taught at the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation at Roger Williams University. In 2019 and 2020, he served on the Board of the American Institute of Architects, Rhode Island Chapter. He is a graduate of Wesleyan (BA) and Princeton (MArch) Universities.

Jonathan has been a member of the Athenæum since moving to Providence in 2000. In 2005, he joined the Buildings and Grounds Committee, and has been a member of the Board since 2007. His wife, Sarah Zurier, grew up in Providence going to the Athenæum, and their son Zachary is now an active user and participant in the children’s library and its programs.

This season was generously supported by the following friends and partners:

Categories: Athenæum, History, Local Interest, Special Collections