Birch Knoll Restoration
Newtown Square, Pennsylvania
Designed by Philadelphia architect George Daub and completed in 1949, Birch Knoll was built for William Butler, President of Aronimink Golf Course, and his family. The house sits on 2.5 acres alongside Aronimink’s 14th and 15th holes. Its International Style design accentuates views of the course via wide windows and an asymmetrical plan. Glass and steel are juxtaposed with natural stone and wood. The home fell into disrepair following a 2011 renovation. When new owners acquired the property in 2017, the prior decade’s work felt dated. They sought to restore the house to its original mid-century modern aesthetic with functionality and upgrades for the future.
k YODER design approached the project with three strategies: an improved connection to the site, material honesty, and design integrity, all of which reinforced the architectural volumes, horizontal planes, and clean lines that are hallmarks of the International Style.
The comprehensive renovation included a full envelope upgrade with all new Ipe hardwood siding and slim, metal-framed windows and sliding doors; consistent new heated porcelain tile flooring on the first floor interior that extends to new outdoor patios of the same material; new wide-plank walnut hardwood flooring on the upper levels; a timeless new kitchen with wood and marble that recall the home’s original materials palette; the continuation of natural stone, including a custom fireplace and detailed masonry to ensure wherever the exterior features stone, it also appears on the interior; and design of new millwork, built-ins, and interior doors to replicate or enhance the originals. The kYd architecture and interior design interventions are subtle, yet significant, meant to be indistinguishable from Daub’s design yet elegant and appropriate to stand the test of time.
Photos © Jeffrey Totaro