Parker Community Boathouse

Anmahian Winton Architects, 2009

Harleston Parker Medal, 2009

Although this project consists of two box-like structures along the Charles River that house a community rowing organization, these are by far the smartest boxes around. Their engineered wood and glass skins are made up of multitudinous operable panels that bring the entire composition to life.

One of the boathouses is wrapped entirely in glass panels over a light steel frame that creates a display case for the racks of shells inside. The other boathouse is skinned in opaque golden panels that open and close to ventilate the ground-level boat storage space. Offices, locker rooms and workout areas occupy the second floor, with windows behind a wood panel scrim. The shingle-like array creates wavelike patterns that reinforce the dynamic quality of the complex. Protruding steel balconies on the river side and sweeping expanses of glass at the entry and function areas are the boxes’ accommodations to their context and programs.

On the inside, layered assemblies of steel, cladding and mechanisms for operating the panels are both utilitarian and elegant, and offer fragmented views of the river through the slots between panels.

The site strategy is unconventional for a boathouse. Most are oriented perpendicular to the river and built on the shoreline, pushing pedestrians away from the water. This boathouse is oriented in parallel to preserve the waterfront path. This results in a greater sense of openness for the boathouse, while maintaining access to the water for all.

Images: Anmahian Winton Architects