Quad Club to get multi-year upgrade

By Ella Christoph

The Quadrangle Club, the private University faculty club on the corner of East 57th Street and South University Avenue, will soon undergo a recently approved multi-million dollar renovation to repair the 85-year-old building’s many functional problems.

The plans for renovation are still in the early stages but will primarily address basic issues such as insulation, electricity, plumbing, and roof repairs.

The goal, incoming chairman Raphael Lee said, is to “make the building more functional.” The club, designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, will still cost $10 to $20 million to repair over the next two to five years, with the intention of maintaining the original architecture.

Although the Quadrangle Club maintains its status as an independent nonprofit organization, the University has recently taken increasing responsibility in helping to restore the building. A University committee is overseeing the grant and will make decisions about the renovation’s schedule and budget with the club.

According to Lee, “The founders of the club had the vision almost 100 years ago to create this kind of institution,” which helps connect faculty members and researchers with the business community.

In addition to the more structural renovations, the club also plans to restore its sleeping rooms, which have outdated interiors. As some of the rooms in the stone-and-brick, English manor house–style building have not been redecorated since the 1970s, replacing the dated furnishings is a priority.

Lee also hopes to publicize some of the Quadrangle Club’s many prominent patrons, some of whom lived at the club for extended periods of time.

“One of the things that makes the Quadrangle Club so unique,” Lee said, “is that it has played host to some of the most important ideas in human history.” Albert Mitchelson, the United States’ first Nobel laureate in science, stayed at the club; so did Leo Szilard, who worked with Enrico Fermi on the Manhattan Project. Other esteemed faculty members, including Nobel Prize–winners Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, an astrophysicist, and economist Milton Friedman, visited the club regularly while teaching at the University.

Lee hopes the renovation will increase publicity about the historical significance of the building.

“It is my personal goal to change the interior of the club so the people of the club and their contributions are recognized,” Lee said.

Some of its residents lived at the Quadrangle Club for as long as a few years. While the University and the individuals are clearly renowned for their achievements, Lee said he would also like people to be able to see how the Quadrangle Club, where many of the University’s most prominent ideas and technologies were formulated, influenced these brilliant individuals.