Community Rowing, Inc.
April 1st, 2011
Have you been to the Community Rowing Boathouse yet? If not, plan to visit on your next snow day. Whether you want to observe beautiful materiality, innovative structure, or witness the smooth interaction of visitors, I guarantee you will leave inspired.
The mission of Community Rowing Inc. is to be able to bring the sport of rowing to everyone. They organize teams, help boys and girls clubs, offer lessons, and rent out storage space for any member. Anmahian Winton Architects wanted to help CRI make rowing more available to everyone, not solely for an elite society. When looking at other boathouses along the Charles River, they do give off a vibe of exclusivity. They have a formal appearance with ornate textures and prominent ramps straight into the water. In wanting to keep the CRI boathouse open to the public, the architects opted to site the building off the water and keep an open path for people to run and walk along the bank. The shape of the building is also much different than the normal box structures seen along the Charles. They decided on a bent rectangle, which creates a long storage corridor for boats as well as allowing for continuous views along the river.
The architecture captures the action of rowing in many ways. Not only does the façade create fluid movement, but the building in relation to the docks (see site plan below), and the balconies in relation to the building mimic a boat with oars. There are two boathouses on the site, each with a unique program and material expression. The larger (Harry Parker Boathouse) houses the three to four person shells as well as offices, gyms, and multipurpose spaces. The wooden wrapped façade contains an operable louver wall system that bends open for air to filter and ventilate the boat storage. The smaller boathouse (Ruth W. Somerville Sculling Pavilion) is encased in glass, to directly inform viewers of the boating world. The open space in-between the structures allows for direct movement towards the water, as well as creating prep areas for the rowers.
When visiting, notice the efficiency throughout the site. This fluid movement along the façade also manifests itself in the actions of the people moving through the site. The open storage spaces as well as the orientation of the building to the water create a smooth circulation, where multiple teams as well as solo rowers and their boats are able to skillfully move around each other in a lively dance. Since the new boathouse opened, the number of members at CRI has doubled, and the land surrounding has become a popular park for the community. Anmahian Winton Architects accomplished not only a beautifully constructed work, but also designed an efficient space for recurring members as well as new visitors.