WMS Boathouse Clark Park development, Chicago waterfront building design, USA architecture award

WMS Boathouse in Clark Park

Chicago River Development, IL, USA: AIA National Award design by Studio Gang Architects

Design: Studio Gang Architects

Location: Clark Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Studio Gang boathouse wins AIA National Award

Studio Gang’s WMS Boathouse at Clark Park in Chicago Wins AIA National Award

WMS Boathouse, Clark Park

Jan 19, 2016

WMS Boathouse at Clark Park in Chicago

January 19, 2016, CHICAGO, IL — Studio Gang Architects is pleased to announce that its WMS Boathouse at Clark Park in Chicago is a 2016 recipient of the Institute Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The jury, chaired by architect Josiah Stevenson, FAIA, and comprising architects Brad Cloepfil, AIA; Roberto de Leon, AIA; and Julie Eizenberg, FAIA, among others, recognized the building as “a respite from hectic urban life,” with “a wonderful informal relationship between building, river and the park where it sits.”

Completed in 2013, the WMS Boathouse is one of four boathouses commissioned by the City of Chicago as part of an initiative to revitalize the Chicago River as the city’s next recreational frontier. It supports this larger movement toward the ecological and recreational revival of the river by creating a key public access point to this shared city resource at the river’s edge.

WMS Boathouse, Clark Park

Clad in durable zinc and slate panels, the boathouse’s two structures —a single-story boat storage building that houses rowing teams’ eight-person shells, as well as kayak and canoe rentals, and a two-story field house that contains an indoor rowing tank and other workout facilities—form a portal to the river. The sculptural roof translates the rhythm of rowing into architectural form, providing visual interest as well as passive solar heating through the building’s upper clerestory. In summer, the clerestory lets in fresh air, while in winter, it allows sunlight to warm the floor slab, minimizing energy use year-round. The structures themselves, as well as the site’s porous concrete and asphalt, native plantings, beds of gravel, and rain gardens, divert 100% of storm water from the city’s combined sewer system. Storm water is retained and filtered on-site before being slowly released to the ground and river.

WMS Boathouse, Clark Park

The boathouse is home to several youth rowing clubs, that in addition to teaching rowing skills aim to foster self-esteem and leadership skills and advance their participants’ educational and life goals. In addition to allowing year-round training for the youth clubs and competitive teams, the boathouse’s indoor rowing tank supports classes for all members of the public. The improved facilities of the boathouse and its sister sites, including the Ping Tom Park Boat House by Johnson & Lee Architects in Chicago’s Chinatown and Studio Gang’s second Chicago boathouse at Eleanor Park, will allow for the expansion of these programs and extend their opportunities to youth across the city.

The AIA’s national Institute Honor Awards program recognizes achievements for a broad range of architectural activity, seeking to elevate the quality of architectural practice, establish a standard of excellence, and inform the public expectations for the breadth and value of architecture.

This award bestows a significant honor to everyone involved in the WMS Boathouse project, but especially to the Studio’s partners at the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago. In recognizing the WMS Boathouse with this award, the AIA also recognizes the importance of the work being done toward revitalizing the Chicago River—and the work still yet to come.

WMS Boathouse, Clark Park

Studio Gang’s Eleanor Boathouse along the Chicago River’s South Branch is currently under construction and scheduled for completion later this year. The series of boathouses, together with the increased access granted by projects such the Chicago Riverwalk by Ross Barney Architects, begin to connect a number of civic spaces along the river. Said Studio Gang founding principal Jeanne Gang, “I hope this national award recognition for the Boathouse will increase enthusiasm for good design and public space in Chicago and invite people to share in our River’s continued ecological and infrastructural revitalization.”

Photos : Steve Hall, © Hedrich Blessing

10 Jan 2014

Clark Park Boathouse Development

Design: Studio Gang Architects

Location: Clark Park, Chicago, USA


First of the Two New Boathouses Along Chicago River Designed and Constructed by SGA

State-of-the-Art, 22,620-Square-Foot Facility Now Open to the Public

Studio Gang Architects (SGA) is pleased to announce the completion of the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park along the north branch of the Chicago River. Designed and built by SGA, the state-of-the-art facility opened to the public on October 19, 2013. It is located at 3400 North Rockwell Avenue on the northwest side of the City of Chicago.

WMS Boathouse 5
photograph : Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

The Clark Park facility is one of four boathouses proposed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as cornerstones of his riverfront revitalization plan, anchoring the river’s future development. Emanuel’s initiative was spurred by the provision of nearly $1 million in grant funds by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to help clean up the river and drive job creation. Studio Gang was commissioned to realize two of the four boathouses, with the second facility to be located along the south branch of the Chicago River at 28th and Eleanor Streets. It is scheduled for completion in 2015.

WMS Boathouse 6
photograph : Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

The WMS Boathouse at Clark Park is currently home to the Chicago Rowing Foundation (CRF). In partnership with the Chicago Park District, the CRF offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities year-round, including learn-to-row sessions both in tanks and on the river, youth and masters team rowing, ergometer training, rowing-inspired yoga classes, and lessons tailored to individuals with disabilities.

WMS Boathouse 9
photograph : Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

As the City of Chicago works to transform the long-polluted and neglected Chicago River into its next recreational frontier, Studio Gang’s boathouse at Clark Park helps catalyze necessary momentum.

Jeanne Gang, Founder and Principal of Studio Gang Architects said:

The architecture is meant to visually capture the poetic rhythm and motion of rowing. But by providing a publicly accessible riverfront, it also reveals the larger movement toward an ecological and recreational revival of the Chicago River.

WMS Boathouse 14
photograph : Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

The boathouse’s design translates the time-lapse motion of rowing into an architectural roof form, providing visual interest while also offering spatial and environmental advantages that allow the boathouse to adapt to Chicago’s distinctive seasonal changes. With structural truss shapes alternating between an inverted “V” and an “M,” the roof achieves 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 ventilates in summer to minimize energy use throughout the year.

photographs : Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

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.

photographs : Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

The total building cost is $8.8 million, with $3.2 million in private funding—including $2 million from WMS, $1 million from North Park University, and $200,000 from the Chicago Rowing Foundation—and $1 million matched by Alderman Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) with TIF funds.

photographs : Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

WMS Boathouse – Building Information

Owner: Chicago Park District

• Clark Park – Completed 2013
• 28th and Eleanor – In design

• Clark Park 22,620 sf
• 28th and Eleanor 18,700 sf

Studio Gang Architects

WMS Boathouse images / information from Studio Gang Architects

Location: Clark Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA

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