Powell/Kleinschmidt peeled back the layers of former renovations to the Briarwood Country Club near Chicago to reveal a simple, Modernist landmark.
Elana Frankel -- Interior Design, 1/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
WITH SEVERAL COUNTRY CLUB projects to their credit, the Chicago-based firm Powell/Kleinschmidt knew that when the prestigious Briarwood Country Club wanted three of its major public spaces renovated, it would call for diplomacy. "We worked with club president Joel Miller and a very committed house committee of ever-changing members," says principal Robert Kleinschmidt. "A very strict budget was established. Miller promised the committee that we would live within it, and we did."
The suburban country club wanted the 5,000-sq.-ft. project to have an urban sensibility without forgoing traditional style and luxury. Over the course of 10 months, Kleinschmidt worked with project manager Charles Lunov and senior project designer Bill Arnold to recapture the architectural elegance of a classic, mid-century modern building that had been lost over years of successive renovations to the living room, cocktail lounge, and main dining room. "Our goal was to make visible the building's concealed assets, show off its Modernist statements, and update the interior in terms of comfort and creativity," says Arnold. This process included restoring original floor-to-ceiling windows that open to spectacular views of the well-manicured grounds and golf course as well as a signature exposed fireplace that rises up through a large, round skylight. Initially, the house committee wanted to get rid of the fireplace, but Kleinschmidt and his team convinced the group that it would serve as a dramatic focal point and create a grand statement in the foyer. "I also explained that it held up the roof," says Kleinschmidt.
Instead of traditional walls, custom-designed woven wood panels on wheels and floor-to-ceiling drapery panels define the various spaces. A color palette derived from earth tones is based on tree bark, wheat, and winter grasses. "Green was never used so that the interior would not compete with the outside world but enhance it," says Kleinschmidt. Though of the correct period, steel furniture from the 1960s did not work in the new space, so transitional custom banquettes and circular lounge groupings were deployed to define seating areas. A standard David Edward chair was modified to create a stacking chair for special events, stressing the club's need for constant flexibility in accommodating weddings and parties as well as regular diners. The dining room now seats 88 people comfortably without sacrifice.
In step with the rest of the world, country club design has become more casual in recent years. No longer concerned with heightened levels of formality, the emphasis is on comfort and elegance. The Briarwood Country Club is no exception; its interior has now been brought back to the casual grace of its Modernist origins.