“Improvement without change” was our mandate for a commission that required relocating an entire structure plus demolition and reconstruction of a kitchen and dormitory wing.
Designed in 1881 by Boring & Tilton, architects of Ellis Island, this distinguished shingle-style clubhouse is the locus of family entertainment for the Belle Haven community in Greenwich. One hundred and twenty years of tradition accounted for the commitment of the membership to maintain the appearance of the clubhouse, but exposure to Long Island Sound for the same period translated into a serious need for repair. Over one quarter of the structure was deemed unsalvageable, while on the interior the clarity of the original plan had been buried under layers of multiple renovations.
The project was complicated further by contemporary flood plain regulations which required that the building be raised almost four feet, an intervention with significant consequences for the logistics of construction as well as for circulation and overall appearance.
The $8 million construction project, which entailed moving the building to one side to install new foundations, was completed without losing a single summer season. Even the new porte cochere, which had been removed over fifty years earlier, looks as if it had always been there.