Oceanville revives Army & Navy Club
The historic Army and Navy Club— once the favorite watering hole of colonial-era American officers and servicemen—is set to reopen by October, this time as a plush 5-star hotel and spa.
Major retrofitting and restoration work in the iconic building is almost complete, according to Cornelio Aldon, president of Oceanville Hotel and Spa Corp., the developer-restorer of the Army and Navy Club.
Once opened to the public, the hotel will feature 74 guest rooms each with a unique colonial-era design; a 300-square meter spa; all-day dining; a coffee shop and a 600-sq m sky bar.
“We’re proud of the work we’ve done in bringing back the grandeur of the historic Army and Navy Club. It’s renaissance is something all Filipinos should be proud of,” Aldon said.
Restored at a cost of P2.4 billion, the Army and Navy Club was originally designed by William Parsons, a Paris-trained American architect commissioned by renowned city planner Daniel Burnham.
“So far, Oceanville is the only Filipino company that has undertaken a restoration project of such cost and scale,” Aldon said. “This was because of the prohibitive cost and extensive research required, especially since most of the original plans and drawings could no longer be found.”
The century-old, H-shaped structure once served as the hub of American social life in Manila for many decades. It had banquet and social halls, dining and drinking facilities, guest rooms, swimming pools and other entertainment areas. Later, the building became a museum but its steady decline continued due to lack of funds for maintenance. For the past 30 years, the building has been condemned and deemed unsafe.
The rotting floors and foundations were the greatest challenge, Aldon said, adding that the building’s proximity to Manila Bay and seepage of seawater had caused much damage to the building’s core.
These were addressed by retrofitting beams and columns and replacing slabs with reinforced concrete. The goal was to strengthen the building and make it conform with Philippine and international safety and engineering standards.
Once successful in its first restoration project, Aldon said Oceanville would be open to helping government rehabilitate more historic buildings around the country.
He stressed, however, that the prohibitive cost of restoration work remained a major hindrance. Company engineers estimate that restorations cost about four times the cost of building a new structure.
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