In what may be a creative interpretation of the adage “form should follow function,” Chicago-based firm Studio Gang Architects has erected a boathouse on the northern bank of the Chicago River that is designed to echo the alternating motions of a rower’s arm movement. WMS Boathouse is home to the Chicago Rowing Foundation and is one of four boathouses that will be built as part of a city-funded project to revive the Chicago River both ecologically and recreationally. The roof’s rhythmic jagged edges were conceptualized by tracing the time-lapse movements of rowers. In this way, the architecture firm was able to capture visually the motion and poetry of rowing. The boathouse is actually two separate structures positioned alongside each other.
The first building is a single-story storage area for rowing equipment, while the second features offices, community facilities, a fitness area and a rowing tank on its two levels. The building is clad in slate tile and zinc panels, giving it an earthy grey complexion that is punctuated by shiny, angular windows located just under the roof. These windows allow natural light to fill the inside of the space and provide natural ventilation during the summer months. The structure’s interior has an open layout with columns stabilizing the beveled, timber-lined ceiling.
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