The architects strove to design a boathouse that would conserve energy and natural resources and have low operating costs. Their solution: an active building-envelope system, created using digital design tools and in close collaboration with fabricators and other consultants. Made of aluminum frames and composite panels, the prefabricated system has vents that open with a tug on an off-the-shelf chain pull. These vents not only create an active facade; they eliminate the need for mechanical heating and cooling of the 300-foot-long boat storage bays.
The 30,000-square-foot facility is intended to reinvigorate public use of the riverfront site. To that end, the design team created a fluid building surface that shifts as people move around it. The operable vents and the patterned louvers (above left) connect indoors and out, and a public court (foreground) between the boathouse and the smaller sculling pavilion establishes a visual connection to the Charles.
The design team made use of state-of-the-art digital fabrication technology and worked closely with manufacturers, fabricators, and installers from early in the process, which helped maintain quality of construction and kept costs down. The building envelope system—made of aluminum frames and composite panels, and operated with off-the-shelf chain pulls—was prefabricated off-site, then delivered as pre-assembled components. This helped the team meet a tight construction schedule.