Bigger than the White House?

white house line drawing

                           His house may be big…

I was recently stuck in a dentist’s waiting room with nothing to read, so I flipped through a tattered year old magazine for something to take my mind off of the pending discomfort.  I came across an article that talked about the estimated “fair market value” of the property at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington; aka “The White House”.  The value estimates varied widely, but one fact in the article jumped out at me -

The Harvard Club’s Commonwealth Avenue Clubhouse is bigger than the White House.

The magazine claimed (and, being a responsible blogger, I confirmed) that the White House consists of 55,000 square feet of living/working space.  Our recent efforts to assess the state of the Club’s property on Commonwealth Avenue schooled me in the fact that our Clubhouse consists of about 90,000 square feet of space.  I was filled with a momentary burst of pride when I realized that, as President of the Club, our “house” was bigger than President Obama’s house.   Then I remembered that, unlike the Commander in Chief, I don’ t have an army, a helicopter, or even a grand Cabinet Room, so he’s still got a better job than me.

But ours is bigger!

                               But ours is bigger!

Once I got over my pride, it started to settle in with me that 90,000 square feet is a lot of space to take care of and keep in good repair. We are working with management and some specialized consultants on kicking off the Master Facility Planning Committee‘s work on identifying and prioritizing needed work in the Main Clubhouse, so I’ve had a chance to visit some far flung, out of the way nooks and crannies of the Club.  The biggest thing that strikes me in these mini tours is the under utilization of many areas of our Clubhouse.  But then I’m buoyed by a sense of optimism about the opportunity that this space presents to us as a Club.

We’ve recently retained a few experts to help us get a handle on the current state of the property on Commonwealth Avenue.  We have an engineering firm updating our existing condition assessment on fire, life safety, and HVAC status, and work underway on an accessibility audit to make sure we are ADA compliant.  If you’ve been around the Club lately you might have noticed some folks with lasers on tripods.  These folks are preparing a complete “as built” model of the existing conditions and dimensions of our Clubhouse.  All this information gathering is being coordinated by a project manager at Perkins Eastman, a master facilities planning firm that is pulling together data for the Master Facilities Planning Committee’s review.   While all this costs money, we feel by centralizing the planning and coordinating our prospective construction efforts we will save a lot on “adds, moves, and changes”.

The MFP Committee plans to be fully engaged on this project this fall with a goal of presenting planning alternatives to the Board of Governors late this year.  We will, of course, be sharing information about the planning efforts and priorities with the membership along the way.   While our Main Clubhouse may not serve the globally critical role that the White House serves, it is the hub of our Club and a big part of what makes the Harvard Club of Boston special.  We hope to enhance the special nature of our Club and prepare our Clubhouse for the next few decades.

And perhaps when he’s done with his current job, a certain Harvard Law School graduate living in that other house might consider joining our Club :)







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