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After several years of controversy surrounding its construction, a new addition to the Harvard Club of New York will be dedicated today.
Though club spokesperson Lonnie Sourey describes the addition as a “seamless expansion of the club,” some high-profile club members have vocally criticized the addition.
The modern glass and stone structure—which includes 16 bedrooms, a handicapped-accessible entrance, banquet rooms, kitchen facilities and squash courts—is squeezed between the original 1894 club house designed by McKim Mead and White and the 1899 New York Yacht Club designed by Warren & Wetmore.
“It looks like a hotel and it feels very commercial,” said Lloyd P. Zuckerberg, who helped lead an alumni campaign against the building. “I wish its aesthetics were consistent with the Harvard look.”
Zuckerberg, a real estate investor who graduated from the Harvard Business School in 1990, described the addition as “entirely lacking in charm and character.”
But J. Max Bond Jr. ’55, a partner at Davis Brody Bond, the architecture firm in charge of the project, defended the design of the $30 million project.
“The goal was to relate it to the existing building in a way that reflected our time but was sympathetic,” he said. “We felt that it was important not to just replicate the original building.”
Club president Joe J. Handlin ’73 said that he was pleased with the new addition.
“Personally I believe that what is going on inside the club is more important than what is happening outside. We are trying to broaden our membership base,” he said. “We need more space and this allows us to do that.”
At today’s crimson ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony, which will take place at the club’s Cambridge Room at 5 p.m., members will tour the new facilities while drinking champagne and enjoying hors d’oeuvres.
Bond, Handlin and other supporters of the project will be there to show off the addition’s features.
And, despite his opposition to Bond’s design, Zuckerberg said he also plans to attend.
When plans for the club’s new addition were unveiled in 2001, a group of alumni opponents joined together to form the Committee for Harvard Club of New York Choice.
They unsuccessfully attempted to stop the expansion, filing a restraining order to stop the demolition of a building on the site of the addition and proposing an alternate design.
When these two methods failed, they attempted to replace the club’s leadership with an alternate slate of candidates at the January 2002 annual election.
That measure was also unsuccessful, but Zuckerberg said he and other opponents of the addition still resent the way club leaders handled the expansion.
“I feel the board of the club treated its members shabbily and with disdain,” Zuckerberg said. “I oppose the manner in which the decision was imposed without input.”
But Handlin said moving forward on the project was necessary.
“There are always people who are bound to disagree. You have to go ahead, though,” he said.
The expansion of the 11,000-member club was partly funded by the $12.5-million sale of a painting by John Singer Sargent that had hung in the club’s lobby.
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