Resort turns to Kolbe for restoration

Wausau, Wis. -- For more than 135 years, The Ocean House resort hotel in Watch Hill, R.I., offered one of New England's most spectacular ocean views. Serious structural issues forced its closure in 2003, but in early 2010, a new Ocean House will open on the original site as the centerpiece of a mixed-use development. The $135 million project broke ground in autumn 2007.

Ocean House's developer, Bluff Avenue LLC, seeks to the restore the romance and historic elegance of the grand Victorian hotel with its gabled tower, mansard roof, and sweeping porches. A new North Wing will be added to take advantage of the sloping site to step down the hill toward the ocean. For enduring performance, improvements to the former property include enhanced structural integrity, and hurricane-force protection.

"Ocean House's project team found the right balance of style and function with our K-Force products," says Cindy Bremer, director of marketing with Kolbe. "The traditional design detailing and wood construction of these windows and doors match well with the New England aesthetic. Without modifying this appearance, all of our K-Force products are tested to withstand intense coastal conditions and impact code for the area."

To ensure proper performance, H. Carr & Sons Construction of Rhode Island is installing a total of 530 Kolbe K-Force windows and 123 doors on Ocean House. These include a combination of aluminum-clad Ultra Series and all-wood Heritage Series products. In addition to their hurricane impact-resistance, all products come standard with energy-efficient LoE² coating that reduces solar heat gain, helping control energy expenses.

The high-performance energy and impact features are integral to Kolbe's K-Force window and door designs. This means structural reinforcements are invisible, allowing clear, safe, comfortable window views from 48 boutique hotel rooms and 24 year-round residential suites. Twelve of the suites will be secluded oceanfront cottage residences with impeccable detailing. All suites will offer year-round services found in the finest hotels such as full-service restaurant and bar room service, spa facilities, an indoor pool, workout facilities, and access to one of the finest beaches in New England.

In less than 18 months, visitors and residents will enjoy a luxurious seaside experience from The Ocean House. To prepare this destination for their arrival will be the result of successfully overcoming many challenges. To accomplish this, Bluff Avenue, LLC assembled a team of nationally recognized professionals. The Peregrine Group, a Rhode Island-based real estate development and advisory firm, has been acting as development manager for the project since the purchase of the original Ocean House by Bluff Ave., LLC. Pinnacle Advisory Group, a Boston-based boutique hospitality consulting firm; Centerbrook Architects, a Connecticut architecture and planning firm; and Dimeo Construction, a construction management and building company based in Providence, Rhode Island.

Among the first identified challenges, despite the hope that the core of the historic hotel could be rehabilitated, Centerbrook found overwhelming deficiencies that made this goal unrealistic. Instead, the decision was made to replicate the original building using salvaged historic elements and to reconstruct capitals, balustrades, and other features and integrate them into the new building.

Centerbrook Architects has taken precise measurements and molds of all interior and exterior architectural elements to enable the most accurate reproduction of these details possible. The original reception desk and the old stone fireplace were carefully removed and are being meticulously restored. All salvageable, architectural elements from the "Captain's Room" were dismantled and preserved for re-installation. And, an historic balcony and Palladian window are being restored and will be installed into the building.

Carrying the intended, historic styling throughout Ocean House, Kolbe's window and doors feature 5/8-inch performance divided lite (PDL) bars to replicate the former muntin grids, while providing modern performance. In addition, Kolbe is manufacturing custom, curved glass units and unique sill design options that address Universal Design criteria and meet ADA requirements.

"We're proud our products can serve Ocean House's many requirements," says Bremer. "We realize the development, design and construction team evaluated several window and door products." She explains, "They narrowed it down to four brands that they felt could do the job. The four windows were installed by the same installation crew. Then, the four windows were evaluated for ease and time taken to install them, overall appearance, performance specifications, impact performance, and quality considerations. The design team conducting the review selected Kolbe as the number one window. We were chosen as the project window based on this exhaustive selection process."

When complete, the new Ocean House will have 120,495 square feet of finished, conditioned interior space, which adds 20,253 square feet to the original structure. To better blend with the neighborhood, the hotel's face to the community will appear nearly 7,000 square feet smaller. This less imposing scale will be accomplished by reducing the amount of gross square feet measured at the lobby level and all of the floors above. Event spaces and amenity functions such as the pool now will be below the lobby level and enclosed within the protective arms of the new hotel's two wings. This shields them from view, while remaining a welcoming destination.

"There are few people today associated with the hotel who do not have or know a story to tell about the Ocean House and its beach. Preserving the fabled hotel and its grounds will keep the old memories alive and set a stage for new ones to come," says Nicholas C. Moore, Bluff Avenue, LLC's president.

To learn more about Ocean House, please see www.oceanhouseri.com.

To learn more about Kolbe and its hurricane impact-resistant windows and doors, please call 800-955-8177 or visit www.kolbe-kolbe.com.

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