Grove Arcade features a variety of store designs unlike the original arcades in Paris — with their galleries of identical stores.
The building also provided an opportunity for combining two or more spaces, as some current shops have done. Still, the emphasis is on marketing — rather than office, storage, delivery or specialized space — and thus walls are taken up with plate glass inside and out. Shoppers are presented not with a labyrinth to explore, but a catalog of selections along a single artery. This model facilitated window shopping.
Inside and out, the use of high-expense items such as marble and polished granite was considered a justified expense. It communicated high culture more than any image or statement. Money was saved on the travertine, the kind of marble that had been Michelangelo’s favorite. The Italian plasterers used a process they’d invented to simulate it by crumbling dried plaster into their wet mixture to create the bubbles and impurities that result from the natural process of limestone deposits in streams.
On the ceiling, the grapevine frieze, made of interlacing vines, illustrates the transition between classical pictorial imagery and Arabesque design, both seen in the Arcade. The grapevine, acanthus and other classical plants in the Arcade show that Grove and Parker were very familiar with the Italian Renaissance.