Studio Gang Architects have designed the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park along the North branch of the Chicago River. The state-of-the-art facility is one of four boathouses proposed by Chicago’s Mayor as cornerstones of his riverfront revitalization plan. Studio Gang was commissioned to realize two of the four boathouses, with the second facility scheduled for completion in 2015.
The WMS Boathouse at Clark Park is currently home to the Chicago Rowing Foundation, which offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities year-round.
The architecture is meant to visually capture the poetic rhythm and motion of rowing. But by providing a publically accessible riverfront, it also reveals the larger movement toward an ecological and recreational revival of the Chicago River.
– Jeanne Gang – Founder and Principal Studio Gang Architects
The architects took inspiration from the time-lapse motion of rowing, and translated it into an architectural roof form. The sculptural roof provides visual interest, while offering spatial and environmental advantages that allow the boathouse to adapt to Chicago’s distinctive seasonal changes.
Structural truss shapes alternate between an inverted ‘V’ and an ‘M’, creating a rhythmic modulation that lets in southern light through the building’s upper clerestory. The clerestory glazing warms the floor slab of the structure in winter and helps minimizing energy use throughout year.
The 22,620-square-foot complex consists of a two-story mechanically heated and cooled training center, one-story boat storage facility, and a floating launch dock. The main building houses row tanks, ergometer machines, communal space, and an office for the Chicago Park District. Boat storage accommodates kayak and canoe vendors and includes office space, as well as clear span storage for rowing shells and support equipment.
Design: Studio Gang Architects
Client: Chicago Park District
Location: 3400 North Rockwell Avenue, Chicago
Size: 22,600 sf
Photography: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing
*All images and information courtesy of Studio Gang Architects.