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Extensive Architectural Additions and Interior Renovations by Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects

Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, has gone back to its 1928 roots. Extensive architectural additions and interior renovations by Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects PC reveal and complement the main clubhouse's original architecture, while modernizing its features to benefit today's membership.

Pat McCarter and her husband Lou have been members of Aronimink Golf Club since 1963 and have seen many renovations over the years, but are very impressed with the club's new look -- especially since it expands on its "old look."

"We love what they've done," said Mrs. McCarter, who was especially pleased with the new Garden Room that revealed and restored original stained glass windows and brings natural light to previously isolated interior spaces.

"The main hall always looked dark before, but there is an attractive soft light now that really brings out the stained glass wall," she said. "The whole renovation is a superb job --really the best we've seen. It can accommodate larger groups now, and it's much more open. I think it's great that they kept the old flavor but modernized and opened it up. You can move more easily from one room to the other. It's really beautiful, and a first-class job."

The McCarters aren't the only members pleased with the club's new face. George H. McGovern, III, who chairs the Long Range Planning Committee at Aronimink, says that the membership reaction has been universally positive.

"Response from members is very enthusiastic," he said. "They appreciate that we preserved and protected the original architect's intent--restoring a significant portion of the rear of the building by creating a new atrium, which had been covered over by the ballroom addition."

As a member of the Aronimink's Board of Governors, McGovern made progress reports to the Board during the year-long renovation, and was very pleased with the cooperation and creative talent that Bernardon Haber Holloway (BHH) brought to the project.

"This was far and away the most extensive renovation we've ever completed, and BHH brought a tremendous creativity to the project, effectively updating the facilities but preserving the original feel throughout the club," said McGovern. "We almost completely rebuilt the original 1928 structure, which uncovered wonderful original architecture, such as wood and iron doors and windows. Everything is new, but maintains the flavor of the old."

It wasn't long before BHH's initial scope of services (additions and renovations to the main clubhouse) expanded to include other projects spawned during the schematic design and programming phase. With stunning views of Aronimink's 300-acre property, the new 6,400 square foot Belmont Center provides indoor and outdoor casual dining and adds a fitness area to the list of club amenities. The Belmont also provides improved locker facilities for the adjacent swimming pool. A new cart barn was also built, which blends discreetly into the wooded landscape.

Although the new construction added complexity to the project, the overhaul of the main clubhouse proved the most challenging. BHH Project Designer John Meadows, who was heavily involved in the schematic design through the construction documentation phases, pointed out that one of the biggest challenges was adapting the design in response to conditions revealed as the restoration unfolded.

"You're dealing with an existing building with a lot of unknown conditions going in," he noted. "The challenge is dealing with those conditions as they arise while keeping the project on schedule."

Gerry Hanby, another architect at BHH who oversaw the projects on a daily basis during the construction phase, explained that the original building was put together using salvaged material from other sites, which was quite a puzzle at first. As each wall was taken down, many varieties of construction components were uncovered. Leaded glass windows, heavy timbers -- even old stone walls came to light, and Hanby noted that it was both challenging and exciting to sort out which to use in reconstruction.

"It was quite a mix," he said. "But each of these new finds presented opportunities, not just barriers, and we all worked together to find ways to use them -- not just bury them or throw them away -- and everyone was on board with that."

Contractor Rob Reeves, Jr. of E. Allen Reeves, Inc. agrees, and added that mutual cooperation and trust went a long way toward keeping the project on target:

"We worked well as a team, especially with the owner's committee," he said. "Everyone came together with a can-do attitude, and focused on the big picture while keeping the details moving forward. There was a great deal of work done on this project, and even more work was added on as the project unfolded. I think BHH did a great job, not just in the original design, but throughout the changes and additions that came up as work progressed. They were fluid and practical, and mindful of the cost and the schedule. It was an excellent project."

Jim Masserio, who has been Golf Pro and Manager at Aronimink for the past 17 years, said the extensive improvements weren't just add-ons, and that much thought went into functionality as well as expanding Aronimink's old-world elegance -- not covering it up.

"It's amazing how they've been able to blend the elegance of the 20's with the functionality of today," he remarked. He said that the Ballroom was definitely one of the biggest challenges, and the changes there are dramatic.

"The high ceiling, the parquet floor throughout -- even the wainscoting on the walls, which matches the Great Room of the clubhouse -- all of it adds a 1920's richness that's just beautiful. Plus, we now have a separate entrance for outside functions that works very well. This has always been a popular club, but these improvements and use of space make it much more comfortable. People now say that we are one of the top Golf Clubs on the East Coast."

Gerry Hanby adds, "I think we accomplished what we set out to do, which was to keep the club's historic character and make it look as if nothing happened -- even though there was almost no part of the building that wasn't touched."

The end result for this historic club is a very successful blend; it's hard to tell where the old ends and the new begins … a perfect match.

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