The boathouse has been long due for an upgrade. So many of the structures designed to shelter boats evoke the ambiance of a 19th-century oil painting, with little regard for fitting in with a bustling 21st-century metropolis. Which is what makes Chicago’s newest boathouse, designed by Studio Gang Architects, feel so fresh.
Built along the northern segment of the Chicago river, the modernist facility’s undulating, pointed roofs are designed to translate the rhythmic motion of rowing into a visual form. It’s home to the Chicago Rowing Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to make competitive and recreational rowing more accessible to the community.
The Clark Park complex, part of the city’s larger effort to revitalize the polluted river, houses a two-story training center, a boat storage facility, and a launch dock, as well as Chicago Parks District offices and communal space. Exercise equipment and indoor rowing tanks will allow training to continue even during the city’s icy winters.
Studio Gang has also been commissioned to create a second boathouse on the southern branch of the river, due to be completed in 2015. With facilities this cool, I’m tempted to take up rowing.