Around a thousand members took part in a survey canvassing ideas for changes they would like to see at the FCC and the masterplan inspired by their answers is now finished. Simon Pritchard, a member of the Club’s House Building Committee, outlines its key points.
A little over a year ago, the FCC board commissioned a master plan report that had two clear objectives. First, we wanted to know what big stuff needed fixing in our Ice House Street home. Second, we wanted to produce a comprehensive blueprint that would allow future FCC boards to plan renovations and possible use changes on a multi-year basis.
The final report was completed in March and the board is moving ahead with key recommendations. Initial efforts will focus on essential works to our external walls and so members should not be too inconvenienced in the coming year. Looking ahead, the idea is to pursue a phased upgrade to areas such as the Main Dining Room, Bert’s and our often-congested entrance lobby.
This exercise was overseen by the club’s House committee and managed by Purcell, an architectural firm that specializes in heritage projects. Purcell had a lead role in turning the old Central Police Station into the Tai Kwun arts centre, and brought along a strong team of professionals. Its first task was to conduct a detailed survey of the FCC premises, and the good news from its report is that the building remains in decent shape, with no major problems.
Once Purcell completed the “phase one” work last May, the hard yards of planning possible changes to our major facilities began. This exercise was heavily informed by a detailed online survey of FCC members and their spouses, which drew about 1,000 responses.
The basic task was to figure out whether the club is properly arranged for the way members use it today and for how they will likely use it in the coming decade. Purcell worked with the club’s management team and board to come up with a variety of proposals for new spatial uses. These were eventually winnowed down to a final master plan, which the club has now adopted.
These choices were subject to practical considerations like our desperate need for more storage space. The final master plan can be broken down into 12 project clusters, which it is envisaged will be run over nine years.
Highlights of these proposals that will likely be of the greatest interest to members include:
It is not envisaged that any major changes to the overall use of space will occur until 2023 and 2024, when the club hopes to have renewed its lease. At this point, the planned upgrade to the Hughes and Burton rooms can be implemented, together with the remodelling of the lower ground floor, which will include a small expansion of the gym to add a stretching room.
It should be noted that the key word in this exercise is “plan”. No commitments have been made and the board has said projects will only be undertaken if our financial situation allows. While the plan identifies intended use changes and broad design principles, these are not final decisions; detailed designs will be undertaken at the time of project implementation. The board expects to get plenty of feedback to its plans, and these will be factored into final decision making.
The value in this exercise is that projects can be undertaken independently of individuals who may serve on the board and champion this or that project. Over the coming decade, a high-level cost estimate by our quantity surveyor points to a cumulative spend of $36 million. Like any effort in forecasting, this one is bound to be proven wrong, however the House Committee — which includes FCC members who work as architects, surveyors and facilities managers — reckon the order of magnitude is about right.
This seems like a lot of money for the club to consider spending on upgrades at a time of uncertainty, and it is. That is especially the case when we have run deficits for the last three years. Yet by the same token, on an inflation-adjusted basis the total sum is not materially different than that spent on capital projects since the big renovations of the early 2000s. For this reason, the plan is doable and offers a clear way forward.
* Members can inquire at the front desk to view the master plan and a copy will be made available on this website.