Launch Slideshow

Anmahian Winton Architects

Located on a site leased from the state of Massachusetts and allowed to be built on the floodplain only because of its classification as a river-dependent building, the Community Rowing Boathouse is a cleverly restrained project that is almost self-conscious in its simplicity.

Anmahian Winton Architects

Located on a site leased from the state of Massachusetts and allowed to be built on the floodplain only because of its classification as a river-dependent building, the Community Rowing Boathouse is a cleverly restrained project that is almost self-conscious in its simplicity.

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    Site Plan

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    East Elevation

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    West Elevation

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    First Floor Plan

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    Second Floor Plan

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    The site has two distinct buildings-a wood-louvered structure with boat storage and program space and a glass-shingled boat hangar.

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    North Elevation

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    The two structures sit directly on the banks of the Charles River.

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    The operable vents on the first level of the larger building allow breezes off the water and natural light to permeate the boat storage spaces.

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    The wood paneling continues on the ceiling of some of the interior spaces, lending warmth to an otherwise fairly utilitarian space.

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    Panels made from the same composite wood veneer material as the vents are fixed above the windows on the second story and are alternately canted toward and away from the river to mimic the texture of the vent panels below.

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    Three cantilevered bridges protrude from the river side of the main building, allowing outdoor access for second-floor spaces and interrupting the texture of the wood louvers that make up the façade.

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    The configuration of the vents cladding the boat storage allows them to be shut tight for security and weather resistance; an extended tab hangs over the lower panel to shed rain.

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    The configuration of the vents cladding the boat storage allows them to be shut tight for security and weather resistance; an extended tab hangs over the lower panel to shed rain.

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    Along the river side of the structure, operable vents alternate with fixed panels, but on the perpendicular face, spans of vents open together to form a door through which boats can be removed and carried down to the river.

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    Louvers on the second story wrap the street side of the building and are angled and lapped to create a textured surface. These louvers are used as a sunscreen that shields locker rooms and other private spaces from the outside and conceal the mechanical and HVAC systems.

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    operable vents louvers glass shingles

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    Louver Diagrams

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    Louvers on the second story wrap the street side of the building and are angled and lapped to create a textured surface. These louvers are used as a sunscreen that shields locker rooms and other private spaces from the outside and conceal the mechanical and HVAC systems.

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    Louvers on the second story wrap the street side of the building and are angled and lapped to create a textured surface. These louvers are used as a sunscreen that shields locker rooms and other private spaces from the outside and conceal the mechanical and HVAC systems.

The Community Rowing Boathouse offers access to the waters of the Charles River in more ways than one: It serves as the first riverside home for a largely volunteer-run nonprofit (which has been operating seasonally out of a nearby hockey rink for the past 20 years), and it is the only publicly accessible boathouse in the university-dominated world of crew. Located on a site leased from the state of Massachusetts and allowed to be built on the floodplain only because of its classification as a river-dependent building, the boathouse is a cleverly restrained project that is almost self-conscious in its simplicity.

The 30,000-square-foot facility offers storage space for more than 170 boats on the first floor of the two-story main structure and in a separate, single-story hangar; the upper level of the main building houses classrooms, exercise rooms, boat repair, and administrative spaces. Site constraints necessitated the storage of boats parallel to the river (rather than the traditional perpendicular). Operable composite wood veneer louvers—measuring 30 inches by 18 feet—on the perimeter of the main structure's ground floor allow for light and ventilation in the boat storage spaces. A ventilated system of open-joint laminated glass shingles mounted on aluminum clips serves the same purpose in the adjacent hangar, while placing the boats on display and saving them from potentially damaging UV rays. A further series of fixed composite wood veneer louvers allows light into the upper level of the main structure while still shielding locker rooms and hiding mechanical units from view.

One of the aspects of the project that the jury most appreciated was the textural quality of the buildings' surfaces. Juror Coleman Coker said that “[the building] has a tactile quality, and I like the way that it opens and closes feasibly. I think that's a really interesting thing for a building, particularly a building that has movement in it.” Karen Van Lengen also appreciated the project as a whole. “It's a very simple, crafted structure that holds these very beautiful boats. And that sort of simplicity, the formal simplicity of the building against the sort of beautiful, sleek geometry of the boats, is very nice.”

  • Nick Winton  Alex Anmahian
    Nick Winton & Alex Anmahian

Project: Community Rowing Boathouse Location: Cambridge, Mass.
Architect: Anmahian Winton Architects, Cambridge,—Nick Winton, Alex Anmahian (principals, above left and right); Todd Thiel, Sydney Schremser, Joel Lamere, Garth Goldstein, Makoto Abe, Mazen Sakr (project team)
Year Founded: 1992 Number of Employees: 14
Engineers Richmond So Engineering—Richmond So, Martha Sullivan (structural); Childs Engineering Corp.—David Porter (waterfront structural); RW Sullivan Inc.—Paul Sullivan (M/E/P)Consultants: Stantec—Frank Holmes, David Nardone (landscape architect); The Green Roundtable—Kevin Settlemyre, Jelena Srebric (environmental, fluid dynamics); Harriman Associates—Clifton Greim (geothermal)
Client: Community Rowing Cost: $10.5 million Size: 30,000 square feet

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