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Rhythm and Balance: Community Through the Architecture of Rowing Lauren Day Chair: Charlie Hailey Co-Chair: Mark McGlothlin

A Masters research project presented to the University of Florida Graduate School of Architecture (GSoA) in partial fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Architecture for the Spring of 2016

Dedication To quote Billy Bob Thornton, “You can say anything in the world and get in trouble I know this for a fact so I am just going to say, ‘Thank You.’”

acknowledgments Rowing has been a huge part of my life for 10 years now. My love of the sport started when I was a freshman in high school looking for a sport I could accel in. About the same time, I also enrolled in a few architecture classes at Lyman High School. I had always enjoyed buildings and learning about how they worked and why. My first architecture teacher there, Mr. William Hegert, instilled in me a passion for architecture, but also a passion for chasing the things I loved to do. I have always dreamed of being able to combine those two things I love, architecture and rowing, and this project has given me that opportunity. I am grateful for the good fortune and the good people that have helped guide me down this path. The rowing community has been hugely supportive of this project. From members of various clubs allowing me to visit thier facilites, rowers form all over sending me photographs and telling me the stories of their teams and boathouses, to my teammates who listens to me talk about boathouses for hours incessantly at dawn every day as we get a morning row in, the rowing community continues to show me what true cammeraderie and community is about. This project wouldn’t have come to fruition without the hard work of the rowers before me that laid the groundwork for my participation. Strong women like Anita DeFranz, Chris Ernst, Joanne Iverson, and their advocates, like Ted Nash and Harry Parker made it possible for women like me across the United States to have the opportunity to row. Without the support of my mom and dad, I wouldn’t have been able to continue to row. They have supported me tirelessly through my education and rowing career and always have the perfect race snacks on race day. To the other people that influenced me along the way, Laura Riekki, Liz O’Leary, and Krystina Sarff, whose efforts in coaching instilled in me the love of the sport and the importance of teamwork. William Hegert and Rafik Accad, who taught me that architecture is a labor of love. To my Chair and Co-Chair, Professors Charlie Hailey and Mark McGlothlin for guiding me towards my goals. To all of my teammates past and present who have strengthened the bond between community and sport. To all of my classmates who put up with my shenanigans and push me to be a stronger designer every day. I would also like to thank my friends Katie Cronk, Joan Spinelli, Gary Gookin, Mitch Clarke, Matt Vetterick, Emily Porter, and Kaylee Delhagen for listening to me talk about this project non-stop for the past year, and for always being my support.

table of contents

abstract 7 history of rowing The Sport...............Overview 8 Women’s Rowing 12 Rowing Today 15 The Equipment.......Introduction 17 The Pococks 18 Composites 20 The Boathouse.......Beginnings 21 Development 21 Today 22 identifying the context Defining Community 23 The Impact of Equipment 26 Mechanics and Team 29 Introduction of Site Site and Community 34 Analysis of Conditions 36 Development of the boathouse Boathouse Impact on Site 40 Inspiration of the Mechanics 42 Porosity and Views 47 Site and Function 50 Envisioning Purpose 54 The Importance of Materiality 62 Design Decisions 64

future implications The Boathouse and Community


index of boathouses 71 West 74 Midwest 78 South 85 Northeast 94 glossary of rowing terms


Timelines and Reference Equipment Use 124 Development of the Oar 125 Boat Construction Materials 126 photo credits 128

works cited 130

abstract The modern boathouse is a culmination of several centuries of evolving waterside structures. The American boathouse, in particular, has emerged from its beginnings as a stomping ground for the local elite, to a place where the working class of America can hone their skills as rowers. The unchanging aspect of the boathouse is its attachment to community. Whether acting as a social club for the rich and famous, a training facility for the sport’s elite, or as a way to engage the community in a common activity, the boathouse is a hub for community interaction. This sense of place for the community can lead us to the future, where more and more cities will develop community funded rowing programs for the at-risk youth in the area. In this project, I will chronicle the history and evolution of the North American boathouse to understand the implications of the relationship between community and boathouse. As part of the study I will create an encyclopedia documenting fundamental characteristics of form, space, construction details, and use. I will study the vernacular characteristics of several iconic boathouses and from that, synthesize what defines the true essence of the boathouse. By studying these specific details in function, style, access, and demographic use, as well as looking at regional strategies for sustainable design and construction, I will create a boathouse that can be used as an affordable, sustainable, regionally aware solution that can be adapted for use in a community rowing start-up program package in conjunction with an existing community rowing startup program. The boathouse could also become an icon in the community to be used as a place for socialization and gathering, much like the boathouses of old, but with an updated vernacular, bringing together social function and working class athleticism. Specifically, I will look at a site in Orlando, Florida, on Lake Fairview, which is already home to several rowing programs. This site will work in conjunction with current local plans to start a community rowing program in order to boost the areas current high school, middle school, and master’s rowing programs. This site contains existing conditions that the proposed boathouse must react to, such as existing structures, city infrastructure, and residential conditions around the lake. Environmental issues such as flood zones must also be accounted for.

History of rowing The Sport

Rowing is a sport rich in tradition. Originating as a race between ferry boatmen on the River Thames in London, rowing came to the United States in the mid 1800’s as a sport for prominent and wealthy male members of the community to showcase their strength1. After John B. “Jack” Kelly Sr.’s stance against the elitist rowers of the Henley Royal Regatta (HRR) in 1920, rowing in America began to shift from the sport of the societal elite to athletic feat of the blue-collar worker2. Contrary to rowing overseas, rowing in America became not about social status, but about a true sense of community.

John B. “Jack” Kelly, Sr.

terms of the boathouse must be created.

As history tells it, in 1715 a well-known actor by the name of Thomas Doggett was standing on the banks of the Thames in London, England, and suddenly fell in. At once, several of the ferry operators paddled their way over to rescue him. After this, he offered a wager to pay the winner of a race between the six fastest young watermen on the Thames. The prize was a coveted traditional watermen’s red coat at a badge created by Thomas Doggett declaring ownership of the title of fastest ferryman on the Thames. The race became a matter of prestige for the ferrymen, and the contest Rowing in North America has seen continued to be held every year significant growth in the past decade, and with that growth comes the issue of thereafter. The race came to be known by facility availability. With a strong history its founder’s namesake: Doggett’s Coat and Badge. Doggett’s Coat and Badge3 in areas like Boston, Philadelphia, and Seattle, boathouses and social traditions became a catalyst for the development of are well established. However, in areas rowing as a sport. experiencing rapid growth in the sport, such as Florida and the San Francisco The Coat and Badge also had a direct Bay area, commodities such as boateffect on the development of the social houses are often overlooked in favor of aspect of the sport, and on the equipment the purchase of more boats to provide that fueled the sport forward through more rowers the opportunity to engage in the 21st century. To understand the the sport. In order to project the change development of the social aspect and in social climate of the boathouse, the the architecture of rowing, the English comparison between the early British history of those things must also be clubs and the early American clubs must considered. The changes that have taken be made. A chronicle of the change in place in the American rowing system can these clubs over time both socially and be assessed in parallel with these factors. physically, how they are manifested in With the creation of the Doggett’s Coat

1 Unknown, “Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race,” Guildhall Library Manuscripts, September 2006, Retrieved 4-1-15, 2 Dodd, Christopher, Henley Royal Regatta (England: Century Hutchinson, 1987). 3 Unknown, “Doggett’s Coat and Badge Wager,” The Company of the Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames, Retrieved 4-16-15,


and Badge, watermen along the Thames began organizing themselves into clubs where they would train and compete against one another. The two original rowing clubs in England, the Star Club and Arrow Club, were formed. These clubs were formed on the Thames by the watermen of the first Coat and Badge races. They served the purpose of providing the competitive ferrymen a chance to hone their skills and practice in a setting that fostered social camaraderie and hard work. This club system would end up creating a social structure that would be the downfall of the working class rower in England. As time passed on, the ferrymen were no longer able to participate in the social events that the rowing clubs had become known for. They were “labourers,” and under the current rowing governance, the Amateur Rowing Association (ARA), anyone “who is or has been by trade or employment for wages a mechanic, artisan or labourer,” was not eligible to gain club membership. This model was perpetuated by the stances of the top clubs in England. Clubs such as Leander, known for its social elitism, interestingly enough began as the Star Club and the Arrow Club, the two clubs formed by Coat and Badge winners. Leander began to push out the rowers that had built up the club in favor of a more well-to-do clientele. Other clubs, such as Taurus Boat Club, sprouted off and fostered their own culture. Over time, the elitist nature of these clubs began to squeeze out its original ferrymen members and shifter to a

more upper echelon establishment. There was even a club formed for the most elite of the already elite clubs. The Remenham Club is formed by London RC, Vesta RC, Thames RC, Twickenham RC, Kingston RC, Molsey RC, and Staines RC, and honors the most decorated members of the original clubs along the Thames 4. The boathouses began to impress dress codes upon their members, which had to be abided by to permit entrance. As time went on, the sport began to be tainted by the introduction of wagering. This influenced further change in the social dynamic of the sport. In 1831, Leander began recruiting and admitting top oarsmen from the Oxford University Boat Club (OUBC) and the Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC). This decision was made after the great success of the first boat race between OUBC and CUBC on the Thames in 18295. At this point, the educated and successful men of the club began turning Leander into the social function it existed as for the better part of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Unfortunately, this led to the exclusion of the original watermen that started the club6. It wasn’t until the late 1970’s that the prominent clubs in England began permitting working class members to be admitted once again. It took almost 30 more years for women to be accepted as members of these clubs. Leander didn’t admit their first female member until 1998; she was three- time Olympic medalist Debbie Flood. The implication of the limited demographic created a blind view of what a boathouse was and how it should function both in the

Doggett’s Coat and Badge, 1906

Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, 1877

Unknown, “British Rowing,” Wikipedia, Retrieved 4-14-15, Unknown, “History,” Leander Boat Club, Retrieved 4-1-15, 6 Unknown, “History,” Doggett’s Coat and Badge, Retrieved 4-12-15, 4 5


Ned Hanlan,1878

Boathous Row, 1904-1912

physical sense of the boathouse, and social as a place for community. These factors played a key role as rowing moved to the United States. In the United States, rowing developed a little differently. It was already established as a gentleman’s sport in England, so when it appeared on the calm rivers of the New England states in the mid 1800’s, the cultural and social expectations of the clubs had long been established by their British models overseas. Boston and Philadelphia established themselves as the major cities for rowing during this time, while the Ivy League schools, modeled after the likes of their English counterparts, Oxford and Cambridge7, also began to excel in the sport. With the Harvard-Yale boat race in 1852 being the first inter-collegiate athletic event to take place in the United States, the popularity of rowing spiked as a way to engage the consumer in amateur level sports. This led to an influx of spectating and participating in the sport. With the introduction of rowing to America, came a new dynamic in community engagement in the sport. Unlike the dressed up, selective spectating of rowing that was mostly geared around mingling with other non-rowers, there was a more laid back and community driven interaction between spectators and participants in the American rowing scene.

Rowing ran into a bit of a wall in terms of its development and progress forward in the late 1800’s. In Canada in the 1880’s and 1890’s, there was a single sculler by the name of Ned Hanlan. He was known far and wide as one of the best single scullers in the world. People would come from far and wide to watch him race and win handily against his competition. Hanlan races were known to draw crowds of 300,000 or more. Wagering on his races became the main draw, as he was guaranteed to win. There were however, a series of races which the ethics of Hanlan’s sportsmanship came into question. After losing a few races to challengers he should have easily bested, Hanlan was put up against a man who was considered to be on Hanlan’s elite level, as far as boatsmanship skills were concerned. Many wagered against Rapid growth in the number of clubs and Hanlan due to his series of recent losses. boathouses soon followed in response Not only did Hanlan win by a large margin, he actually stopped in the middle to the new popularity of the sport. In of the race for a period of time to create Philadelphia, clubs like Vesper Boat a dramatic ending. With that occurrence, Club, Malta Boat Club, Penn Athletic



Club, Fairmount Rowing Association, Undine Barge Club, and Pennsylvania Barge Club began to establish themselves in a district. This district was located in Fairmount Park, just outside of downtown Philadelphia, on the Schuylkill River. The boathouses that were established here did promote social activity, as that was still a prominent feature of the rowing community in the United States, meaning that the clubs were still somewhat relegated to use by the more well off members of the community.

Unknown, “Origins,” The Boat Race Company, Retrieved 4-13-15,

Ned Hanlan’s ethics over the past series of races were called into question and it was deemed that he actually rigged the all of those races in order to increase his winnings and media coverage in the final race. Hanlan’s actions brought to light the issue of professional versus amateur sportsmanship in rowing. This caused a reform in in America, on the front of the actual competitors, and the spectators. After the Hanlan incident, there was a serious decrease in the number of spectators present at regattas. The rules for participation in races changed so that no professional rowers could exist; they must abide by rules that preserve amateurism, which meant no wagers. The communities where rowing was so integrated into daily life, such as Philadelphia and Boston, saw a great decline in the participation of the outside communities in the activities of the rowing community. Once again, the rowing community became a closed off entity. It wasn’t until rowing was introduced as the first sport in the modern Olympic Games in 18968 that it began to come slowly back into the public eye. The next shift in the sport came about in the 1920’s at Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia. In 1920, Vesper Boat Club President and championship sculler John B. “Jack” Kelly Sr. petitioned an entry into the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta, on the Thames in England. (The Henley is one of the most grand and prestigious affairs in all of rowing, stemming from the days where the social aspect was

more important than the quality of the competition. Today the Henley is still known as the place to “see and be seen.” 9 Kelly Sr. was known as one of the greatest rowers in North America at the time and was no lower class citizen. He was the owner of Kelly Brickworks in Philadelphia, he was a multiple-time national champion in the men’s single sculls, and his daughter was Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco. Despite all of these factors, Kelly’s entry was denied based on the fact that he was considered a “labourer” by profession. This spurred Kelly to shift his attention to making rowing available to everyone in the United States as an act of rebellion against the HRR counsel. (As a side note, Kelly entered the Olympics that year to prove he was of the caliber of rower wanted at the Henley. He won gold in the men’s single scull and gold in the men’s double scull in combination with his cousin Paul Costello10.) Jack Kelly’s push for a more equal social scape acted as one of many catalysts for change in the American rowing scene as far as gender and socioeconomics are concerned. This led to more community based boathouses, more focus on sport, and more opportunities for all members of the community. Kelly’s son, John B. Kelly Jr., later used his pull at Vesper to create the first women’s rowing club associated with a men’s rowing club. Before that only three women’s clubs (ZLAC, Philadelphia Girl’s Rowing Club, and Green Lake Rowing Club) existed in the entire U.S. They existed completely independently of the men’s clubs and competed typically within their own organization11.

8 International Olympic Comittee, “History,” International Olympic Committee, Retrieved 4-12-15, OSC%20Section/pdf/QR_sports_summer/Sports_olympiques_aviron%20_eng.pdf 9 Unknown, “History of the Henley Royal Regatta,” Henley Royal Regatta Organizing Committee, Retrieved 4-16-15,https://www.hrr. 10 John Seitz, “John B. Kelly Sr.: A Reflection,” Schuylkill Navy, Retrieved April 14, 2015, 11 Churbuck, D.C., “The Book of Rowing,” New York, 2008.

John and Jack Kelly

John and Grace Kelly,1948

Statue of John B. Kelly, Sr. Kelly Drive, Philadelphia


The introduction of women to the social part of the sport also spurred changes and championed for more accessibility. women’s rowing Though women had been rowing since the 1870’s, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that women were allowed to integrate into the men’s clubs thank to the work of Ernestine Bayer12 and Joanne Wright Iverson13. Ernestine Bayer formed the Philadelphia Girl’s Rowing Club (PGRC) in 1938. The PGRC was originally the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society. After the mainstream use of indoor skating rinks began in the 1920’s, popularity of the skating club on the Schuylkill River declined. Undine and University Barge Clubs were already using the basement of the Skating Club to store their boats, which opened up the opportunity for a rowing team to move into the space. Ernestine Bayer’s husband, Ernest Bayer, an Olympic champion that rowed for Undine, meaning she spent quite a bit of time around the boathouse. The women were only around the club for social events, but Bayer noticed that there was a small group that seemed interested in rowing. She organized a small vent for the women where her husband taught them to row. The next step was becoming competitive. There weren’t any other clubs to compete against, 12 13

Cuyler, Lew, “Ernestine Bayer: Mother of U.S. Women’s Rowing,” BookSurge, 2006. Iverson, Joanne Wright, “An Obsession With Rings,” New York, 2015.


PGRC Women arriving at World Championships in France, 1967

Ernestine Bayer in a single

so races between different groups within the club began to emerge. Eventually, Undine Barge Club got permission to build their own boathouse, leaving room for the PGRC to be established. This allowed, for the first time in the United States, women to be a part of a rowing organization and have the opportunity to compete. It made waves in the Philadelphia community. Rowing was definitely not new to Philadelphia, but the inclusion of women in competitions was. It drew in a larger group of women to participate in the sport. Because of Bayer’s efforts and the efforts of a few other women around the nation, women’s clubs began to pop up, though only a few were sustained. This led to an introduction of rowing culture in places other than Philadelphia and Boston, where the sport was already very well known. Long Beach, Seattle, and a few Midwest towns saw clubs pop up. Even with the other development, PGRC remained on the forefront of the development of women’s rowing. Joanne Wright Iverson was another early pioneer of women’s rowing. Her work at PGRC and Vesper altered the rowing community and also how the broader community could interact with the sport. Iverson had always dreamed of going to the Olympics. She was raised just upstream from Philadelphia’s “Boathouse Row” in Conshohocken, and spent a bulk of her youth on the Schuylkill. After looking for something to do competitively, she wandered into PGRC one day. She took a learn-to-row course with one of the coaches there and quickly became

a well versed sculler. Iverson’s quick study of the sport elevated her to be the top rower at the PGRC. She wanted a challenge. So she organized to row against a few of the men down at Vesper. During this time, there was no national championship for women, the world championship had just been organized but no women from the United Stated competed, and there were no women’s rowing events in the Olympics at all. Iverson saw her chance to push herself by racing against the men. After reaching out to the other two established women’s clubs, ZLAC and Green Lake Rowing Club, Iverson, along with the help of a few others, organized the first women’s national championship race. Something sparked in Iverson that led her to ask the question of why are there no women’s rowing events in the Olympics? With the help of Olympic champion Ted Nash and well respected coach Ed Lickiss, Iverson established the first regulatory body for women’s rowing in the US. With the formation of the National Women’s Rowing Association (NWRA) in 1963, this opened the doors for the US Olympic Committee to recognize and endorse the body for placement in the Olympics. That year the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asked all of the national delegations if they would be willing to sponsor a women’s rowing delegation from their countries if the events were added to the program. There was a substantial amount of pushback from the men’s rowing organization, the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen (NAAO), at the time. But with hard work from Iverson,


Nash, Lickiss, and a few others, the USOC agreed to sponsor the women’s delegation. It took until the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, to debut select women’s rowing events. That Olympics, the US women came home with a silver and a bronze medal in the rowing events. This was a huge stepping stone, not only for the advancement of women’s rowing, but for the advancement of rowing in general as it opened the doors for more people to become involved. The 1976 US women’s Olympic rowing team worked off of the momentum of the 1975 women’s 8+ at the World Championships. The “Red Rose Crew,” coached by long time Harvard coach Harry Parker, was the first US women’s 8 to win gold at a World Championship event14. Two members of the 1975 Red Rose Crew, Chris Ernst and Anne Warner, had a huge impact on not just women’s rowing, but women’s sports at the collegiate level across the United States15. In 1976, after their return from the World Championships, Ernst and Warner continued their senior and junior years at Yale as captain and co-captain respectively. The men’s and women’s rowing teams at Yale had, at this point, existed for more than a century. Ernst and her teammates took offense to the treatment of the women’s team and sought equality. In one of the most iconic protest for women’s 14 15

Boyne, Daniel J., “The Red Rose Crew,” Hyperion, New York, 2001. A Hero for Daisy, directed by Mary Mazzio (2006), DVD.


The women of the “Red Rose Crew”

equality in sports, Ernst, Warner, and their teammates stripped off their clothes and painted the Roman numerals “IX” on their bodies to support the new Title IX legislation, which was a provision for equality in sports. The women were fed up with the unfair treatment of their team in comparison to that of the men’s team. Their boats were the throw away boats from the men’s team. They had no changing rooms or shower facilities like the men. The men’s team was provided a bus the 3 miles from the campus in New Haven to the boathouse, whereas the women had to walk, even in the winter. Their coaches were paid a subpar wage also; a mere $400 per year compared to the men’s coach at $50,000 per year.

rowing today

Today rowing has grown substantially in the number of participants and the number of clubs. Due to the work of people like Kelly and Ernst, rowing has grown substantially in the last 50 years. As of 2009, there were more than 1,100 clubs registered with USRowing, yielding more than 150,000 rowers16. This number only continues to increase. Between 2004 and 2008 there was a 9% increase in participation in the sport17. Of these numbers, more than 147 colleges and universities had NCAA teams (not including club teams at colleges and universities), with more than 7,200 women and 3,000 men participating for those teams alone18. This amount of participation fosters comAfter the media attention the protest munity and promotes competition and received, Yale began treating the wom- excellence in the sport. Because of the en’s team as equals to the men’s team. increased competition, our national team This change took hold across the nation, is able to field faster boats, resulting in allowing women in all sports equal more victories abroad. The US women’s treatment to the men’s sports. Athletics 8+ has been undefeated in competition departments created more opportunities since the 2005 World Championships. In for women, broadening the sporting com- that time they have accumulated 10 world munity. This opened the door for many titles including 2 Olympic gold medals. women to begin competing in rowing. It The US was also the only country to also opened the door for the introduction qualify a boat for every women’s event of sport’s scholarships for women. It at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Success paved the way for the women of today to abroad promotes excitement and partichave equal representation in athletics. ipation in rowing in the United States. With continued growth in the sport, there are more opportunities to include the broader community in the activities of rowing. This significance can be anywhere from spectating, thus creating a more unified community, to awareness about land or water use, or even environ-

Chris Ernst and the Yale women’s rowing team protest unfair treatment, 1976

USRowing, “Safety Information,” USRowing, Retrieved 4-1-16, Recruiticus, “Rowing Scholarships,” Recruiticus, Retrieved 4-1-16, 18 The Rowers Almanac, “Rowing Statistics,” Boathouse Finder, Retrieved 4-3-16, 16



mental concerns like water and air quality. Today’s rowing clubs are very different form the clubs of old. Instead of the closed-off organizations of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, rowing clubs have morphed into places where anyone can come and enjoy the sport. More diverse groups are able to participate, including middle school aged children, high school students, top level rowers, college students, masters, and adaptive rowers. Many rowing clubs work to introduce rowers to different community service activities and organizations as a portion of the criteria for their membership and participation. Today, rowing is about representing the community on a broader scale.


US Women’s 8+ on medal stand at 2015 World Championships.

The Equipment Rowing equipment has its roots back at the time of Doggett’s Coat and Badge. The ferrymen originally used wherries to shuffle their patrons across the Thames. As the ferrymen began racing, they began modifying their boats and oars accordingly. Boats became narrower and longer, eventually developing into specialized racing boats. These were the earliest form of the racing shell. Usually constructed of lapstrake wood, these vessels were very heavy and not easily maneuvered. As the popularity of the sport began to blossom and spread to the universities, specialized boatbuilders began honing their skills. By the mid 1800’s, the boats had turned into the next generation of racing shell. These boats were long and skinny, similar to the proportions of today’s boats, with the 8+’s reaching up to sixty feet in length. They were constructed of a thin wooden veneer over carefully placed and moulded ribs and furring strips. They had wooden or iron outriggers into which the oars set, providing a leverage point for the fulcrum of the stroke. The oars were modified row boat oars, created to have longer shafts with slightly larger surface area at the blade. Each boat maker built their boat a little differently and materials varied. Mahogany, for example, was the most common material in England to skin a boat with, but some used varieties of cherry or oak to get different results. Each crew was custom fit into their boat.

Measurements were carefully taken and laid out in the shop where the boatbuilder would then create jigs and templates for each piece of the boat. The process was tedious and required a high level of precision. Once the boat was constructed, oars were carved from a single piece of lumber, honed down to precise specifications. Each piece of lumber for the oars was carefully selected so it had just the right amount of give to allow it to bend and load at the catch, stay firm through the drive, and spring back right at the finish to propel the crew forward. Boat building and design remained much the same until the late 1800’s. In 1857, John C. Babcock of Nassau Boat Club in New York fitted his single with a sliding seat as a way to increase his mechanics and harness the power of his legs in his stroke. Babcock’s version wasn’t perfect though, as there was still only limited use of the legs in the stroke. In 1870, Ned Hanlan, the acclaimed sculler began using a pair of eighteen inch slide tracks in his boat, allowing him to get his legs fully flat in the boat. This allowed him to recruit more muscles in the stroke, thus generate more speed through his stroke. By 1873, both Oxford and Cambridge were using the fully sliding seats in their boats. This allowed them to knock nearly thirty seconds off of the previous standing Boat Race course record. The original seats, originally made of leather, didn’t

Rowing without sliding seat.

Rowing with sliding seat.


last well, so wooden versions began replacing them atop the brass tracks.

George Pocock in the Canoe House at the University of Washington.

Inside Pocock’s workshop.

it was just the prodding Pocock needed to return to boat building. Pocock used new materials in new ways to create the fastest hulls the sport had seen yet. His use The Pococks of the stiffer but lighter western red cedar skin on his shells gave them durability As rowing became more popular in and rigidity, while the spruce ribs gave America, boatbuilders began to come over from England as a way to make enough flex to the boat to allow power to be applied just the right way. His boats a more livable wage. One of the most notable boatbuilders was George Pocock. were able to be even narrower. He even took some of the experience he gained George’s father was a boatbuilder for Eton College in England, so George and at Boeing and reshaped the bows of the boats, making them even longer and thinhis younger brother, Dick, had always ner to cut through the water. Pocock was grown up around the craft. In 1911, George and Dick boarded a steamer ship also the first boat maker to market his for America. They ended up in Vancou- products to more than just one team. ver, British Columbia20. After several After the great success of his shells was fails at getting their boat business up and running, George was approached by noticed, more teams began requesting his boats. It began with the other west coast then University of Washington rowing coach, Hiram Conibear. Conibear hired universities like the University of California (Cal), but quickly spread to the east the brothers to come down to Seattle and build a few shells for the university. coast as the University of Washington The boys wired their father and had him and Cal dominated the traditionally Ivy come over to the US so they could work League won races at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championtogether on these boats. Upon arriving at the university, they quickly found out ships. Pocock was able to deliver a top of that the school had only allocated enough the line boat at a low cost to teams across money to build one shell, and had given the US. He made rowing more accessible to all and helped grow the sport trementhem an unlit basement space to work dously. He was also a great steward for in. For a while, George’s boat building the sport and often spoke to the local dreams were dashed and he was releSeattle newspapers about the status of gated to building pontoons for Boeing the current Washington teams. The local planes. Soon after, Dick was hired to be the boatman at Yale, and their father community became so interested, that returned to England. In 1922, an article by the mid 1930’s, crowds of more than was published in the Seattle newspaper a quarter million would gather on the stating that George was returning to the shores of Lake Washington to watch the University of Washington to build boats crew races. once more. This of course, was false, but 20


Brown, Daniel, “Boys in the Boat,” Penguin, New York, 2013.

Pocock’s son, Stan Pocock, was the next to create what is probably the most innovative equipment change in the sport. After World War II, the abundance of new material on the market was staggering. In the late 1950’s Stan began experimenting with fiberglass use in racing shells. What first began as a lamination with wood to increase its durability was quickly dismissed as too heavy. This led him to create one of the first full fiberglass shells. By 1981, Stan Pocock had designed and constructed the first monocoque carbon fiber shell. Stan also revolutionized moulded seat tops, laminated oars, and adjustable height oarlocks. The details refined by both George and Stan Pocock have given us the boats we row today.

Dreissigacker brothers testing an early oar design for durability.

A final innovation to boat design came in the form of the rigger. By the time Pocock was building his composite shells, riggers had become welded aluminum pieces, but still retained the same shape as the original iron outriggers used in the 1800’s. In the late 1980’s, Robert Negaard of Jacksonville, Florida created a rigger that would alter the ease of rigging in the sport. Old “euro style” sculling riggers usually require 8 or more bolts with nut, washer, and locking washer assemblies to keep them affixed to the boat. Negaard grew tired of this. He used his engineering background to create what he called a wing rigger.


Wing rigger on a WinTech single scull.

Early CRASH-B Indoor Sprints on Concept2 Model-A ergometers.


Instead of attaching to the sides of the boat, the wing riggers use only 4 bolts and attach to the tops of the gunwhales, creating a more rigid platform and adding structure to the boat while increasing the ease of rigging. Today, most boats have gone to the wing rigged design.

that by the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the majority of participating crews were rowing with the Concept2 “Big Blade” style oars. Today, the Dreissigackers and their company, Concept2, remain on the forefront of rowing training and oar design innovations.


All of these innovations in the equipment of the sport allow the rowing community to participate in better ways. This allows the broader community to engage in the development of the sport’s equipment as manufacturers continue to create and design with new innovative materials.

While Negaard was developing the wing rigger and Stan Pocock was working with composites, Dick and Pete Dreissegacker, two brothers from Vermont, had a different idea about how oars should be made. The brothers started tinkering with oars in the late 1970’s as they were preparing for the 1976 Olympic Trials. To save weight and increase the performance of their oars, they added carbon fiber to the shafts and recreated the blade material composition. With these lightweight, more dynamic oars, they began handily improving on their opponents. They did not make the Olympic team, however they saw this as an opportunity to start selling their carbon fiber oars. By 1980, the brothers had created a product that was very successful domestically and beginning to become popular worldwide. In 1981, distracted from their oar project, they decided to revise the ergometer, a training device used by rowers, typically in the winter. The Concept2 Model-A erg went on the market and became wildly popular in clubs around the world. In 1991, the Dreissigackers introduced an asymmetrical hatchet style blade that was 1-2% faster than current macon blades. This advancement was so well received,

The Boathouse Boathouses as a storage facility precede the Coat and Badge. The original boathouses were a water level structure with a small storage space above where the ferrymen could meet or get out of the weather, should it become inclement. As the early rowing clubs began to organize and the equipment began to change and develop, boats needed space out of the water to be stored. Boathouses moved back slightly from the shore and introduced long boat bays and floating docks. The social program of the boathouse began to develop also as the club memberships grew. The increased importance of the social aspect of the boathouse began to overtake what should have been the primary function of the boathouse, and the upper gathering floors began to appear oversized, as if they were billowing over the boat storage space below. The precedence of the gathering space altered the functionality of the club. In the Leander Club boathouse in London, for example, the upper floors begin to overtake the boat storage beneath to the point that the bays are almost unnoticeable. The social spaces of the boathouse were added onto, but the boat bays remained. This resulted in a very direct relationship between the visible vernacular of the boathouse and the program held within. As rowing clubs began sprouting up in the United States, they followed the architectural cues from the British clubs.

Early clubs in Boston and Philadelphia share a vernacular with the boathouses overseas in the way that they too have the bulk of their architectural detailing focused on the social portion of the program rather than the boat bays. Clubs like Riverside and Cambridge in Boston, Vesper and Malta in Philadelphia, and ZLAC in San Diego had large clubhouse spaces originally intended to hold their meetings or parties. The spaces were primary to the boat bays. The bays were small and unadorned; just the apt size for the boats they held. As these clubs began to allow more diverse membership, the architecture of the clubs began to change. Many boathouses began to eliminate the social spaces and focused on having just boat bays. Some teams repurposed old sheds or warehouses, and some teams just stored their shells outside on specially built racks. The introduction of more high school and community based rowing programs prompted further change in the way boathouses were constructed and thought of.

WMS Boathouse under construction.

Development By the 1980’sand 1990’s, high school rowing clubs across the country had popped up. The utilitarian nature and lack of funding to high school rowing programs shifted the vernacular of the boathouse from ornamented and complex to refined and function specific. In many

Simplistic, utilitarian construction of the University of Florida boathouse..


Interior of Jacksonville Episcopal’s Walton Boathouse.

situations, the excessive social space was just extraneous. For example, the majority of high school boathouses in Florida are comprised of either a fenced enclosure with boat racks, or a simple, unconditioned space. As more community based programs begin to form, this trend continues. However, the trend is not completely exclusive. There are still many teams that build boathouses in the old style with a focus on the social space. Teams that receive more funding or have larger participation bases typically have more developed boathouses. Private schools tend to have more funding and support from alumni. The boathouses at Jacksonville Episcopal High School and the Bolles School in Jacksonville are both the product of well-funded preparatory school programs. They continue the idea of a large social space placed above the boat bays, however, in the new iteration of the boathouse, the social space was more convertible. Used for not just gatherings of the rowers, but events to bring in the outer community, these boathouses have adapted to a more modern social structure. Today The implication of these developments is a more inclusive atmosphere to which the architecture begins to respond. In the case of the more utilitarian structures, the notion of hard work and purpose influences the design of the boathouse. They are designed with function in mind, stripped down to just boat storage with enough space to erg inside. Oth-


er existing boathouses have also been repurposed in function as the hierarchy of the sport has changed. The once secretive social space of the Vesper boathouse, for example, has been changed into a more permanent workout room. In the area that once held nightly events for members, ergs and weights now sit. The ergs can still be moved away into a closet to hide them from view, but this is not a permanent situation. Keeping with the tradition of the club though, the bar area is still used solely for the purpose of gatherings. The boathouse has also adopted an open boathouse policy where non-members seeking to learn more about the sport can come in and get a preview of the club and what rowing is. The introduction of this inclusivity of the community aspect interacting directly with the rowing community gives more opportunity for an even greater influence of community on the architecture of the boathouse.

Identifying the context Defining Community

When speaking of community, there are many facets and scales of community that directly impact each other. Community can be defined in several ways. At the scale of the United States, there is the nationwide rowing community, the regional communities, the state communities, the team communities, and the boat communities. The US rowing community exists through governing bodies and regattas (races). Regional rowing communities interact usually in race situations at certain championship events. Similarities between clubs in each region exist due to vernacular or traditions. For example, teams in the northeast typically participate in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, while the southern region teams typically travel to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Head of the Hooch regatta. The differences in experiences between the regions cause differences in tradition also. Communities within states are caused similarly. Each state has a local governing today for rowing. For example, in Florida there are three: the Florida Intercollegiate Rowing Association (FIRA), the Florida Masters Rowing Association (FMRA), and the Florida Scholastic Rowing Association (FSRA). Florida’s rowing community is unique because it is the only state that can row on the water year round, because of weather conditions in the winter. Other states, such as Arizona, are unique in that they have limited numbers of teams due

to the lack of rowable bodies of water in the state. These geographic conditions create smaller niches in rowing communities. Again, attendance to certain events like state championship regattas create a community of rowers at the state level. Team communities are even smaller. With most high school teams averaging 20 to 60 rowers, this is a small group comparative to the amount of rowers that exist at the state level. Teams have different traditions that are distinct to their group. Some examples are that Lyman High School’s rowing team has a tradition where rowers are tossed into the lake on their birthdays, or that Space Coast Crew tosses their graduating seniors into the water at the state championship regatta. There are also universal traditions such as tossing the coxswain of the boat into the water after a win, or “betting shirts” where the losing teams must all forfeit their racing shirts to the winning team. The last rowing community is the boat community. Within each boathouse, coaches assemble the different boats to race together. Those boats, with minimal changes in lineups, typically practice together every day. They must learn to follow each other with perfect synchronicity and be able to intuitively anticipate the next move of their crewmates. These groups usually function best in a larger team setting, but bond more with each other and look for support from each other.

University of Florida Women’s Novice 4+ toss in their coxswain after a victory.

University of Washington Men’s Varsity 8+ toss in their coxswain.




The Impact of Equipment It is important to understand the equipment when considering context. The equipment utilized in rowing represents both a physical and spiritual connection to the water. The boats, oars, seats, and riggers are all points of catalyst for that connection. With the connection of the human body to the oar handle and the oar handle to the water, there is a poetic joint that symbolizes the connection to community. Connection is essential to the rowing stroke. The connection begins with the body’s connection to the boat. This connection comes through the seat. The joints between the boat and the body become reactionary to one another. The seats, for example, react to the shape of the sit bones that contact it. The next point of connection, the oar handle, forces the hand to curve around it and react to its shape. Implications of this reaction lead to more ergonomically designed seats and handles to accommodate the connection between the natural form of the human body and the hard construction of the boat and oars. Scale also becomes an important part of understanding the relationship between the body and the boat. The average length of a single scull is 27 feet. The diameter of the cross section of the wetted surface of the


The seat becomes the first method of connection of the body to the boat. Shape of the seat is a response to the form of the human body, while the material is a reaction to technological advancements.

boat in the water, or beam, is only 10 inches. Eight man shells are up to 57 feet long with a beam of 15 inches. The implications of these dimensions is a fragile object specifically designed for agility and speed on the surface of the water. Introducing this idea of scale and delicacy into an architectural context can mean that notions of boat construction can be understood through methods of design. Connection between elements of the equipment such as the oar to the boat is a critical part of transferring power from the rower to the water to generate speed. The oar sits inside the oarlock, which is connected to the rigger. The rigger then connects to the boat. The pin that connects the oarlock to the to the boat acts as a fulcrum point for leverage between the rower and the water. The oarlock, a seemingly insignificant piece, is the hub of this connection.

The oarlock has many points of motion. The oar spins within the oarlock, the gate swings closed to secure the oar, and the oarlock assembly fits down onto the pin.



Mechanics and Team Another element of connection is the mechanical connection between the rower and the water. Mechanical connection goes beyond the visual connection of the hand to the oar or the emotional connection of the teammates. The mechanical connection is tangible and visual. It can be taught, modified, adapted, and perfected. The rowing stroke works off of basic principles of leverage and efficiency. The oar acts as the lever, while the oarlock and pin assembly acts as the fulcrum point. The longer the lever (the rower is an extension of the lever, that’s why taller rowers typically excel) the more efficiently the power can be applied. The point where the oar contacts the water becomes the point of speed transfer, while the point where the feet touch the footplate in the boat becomes point of power application from the rower. The horizontal positioning of the rower’s legs in the boat allows the directional transfer of power in a plane parallel to the water, creating forward motion.

are vertical, and the arms are outstretched forward. The blade face of the oar is perpendicular to the water and placed in, so that the blade is covered by the water and the shaft is exposed. Next, the drive phase begins. As the legs push and come down first, the heels connect to the footplate, and the hamstrings, quads, and glutes engage, beginning to propel the boat forward. Once the legs are flat, the body begins to “swing” towards the bow of the boat, maintaining leverage on the oar. Completing the drive phase, the arms accelerate into the body. As the arms approach the body the finish, or end of the stroke takes place. In this portion of the stroke, the arms push, or “tap” down slightly causing the blade to exit the water. In a quick motion called feathering, the inside wrist on the oar turns the handle so the blade face is now parallel to the water. The feathering of the oar at the finish allows the blade to cleanly pass over the water during the next phase of the stroke. The recovery phase of the stroke is usually carried out in a 2:1 ratio The phasing of the stroke allows for of recovery speed to drive speed. After maximum efficient power application the rower reaches the finish, the arms through the lever (oar) to the water. The come away from the body, the body connection happens at the footplate, seat, swings forwards from the hips, and the and oar handle. The main parts of the legs slowly come up. As the oar passes stroke are the catch, the drive phase, the over the rower’s toes on the way to the finish, the recovery phase, and then the catch, the oar is “squared” again in prepacatch once more. In the catch phase, the ration for placing it back into the water. balls of the feet have contact with the Once the blade is squared and the shins footplate, the body is forward, the shins are vertical, the hands are raised slightly,


Partially through drive phase.

Blades exiting water at finish.


allowing the blade to fall back into the water, at which point the catch has been taken and the sequence of the stroke begins again. Crews generate speed based on their power application through the water and their synchronicity. Boats that “swing well together� are typically the fastest and most efficient crews, as they are completing all phases of the stroke together repeatedly. Strong legs and cores are pertinent for a maximally efficient stroke. Swing begins to represent unity. Unity is a hallmark characteristic of a strong and successful crew. The idea then becomes based on swing and how that can begin to symbolize rowing architecturally, and how can that architecturalization also allow for interaction of the broader community with the rowing community?





introduction of the site Site and Community

Edgewater HS Boathouse

Orlando Rowing Club

The site selection for the project was based on the criteria of land availability, existing rowing community and infrastructure, and opportunity to integrate community into the project. The site that best met the criteria was a vacant portion of a lakefront lot at Lake Fairview Park in Orlando, Florida. It sits at the corner of US 441 and Lee Road. The site was adjacent to two existing boathouses that house three clubs. The Dennis Kamrad Boathouse is home to Edgewater High School Rowing and the Charles Kenneth Corkery Boathouse is home to Orlando Rowing Club (ORC) and North Orlando Rowing, masters and high school teams, respectively. Lake Brantley Rowing Association also has their boathouse just down the shore. Lake Fairview Park is host to not only rowing teams, but on the weekends also hosts softball tournaments on the park’s fields. The proximity to downtown Orlando creates an opportunity for the non-rowing community to have a better interaction with the sport. The project has the opportunity to become about engaging the local community, the rowing community, and the water, all while providing an understanding of the sport through the boathouse’s architecture. Some of the surrounding community is familiar with what takes place on the lake. People that live directly on the lake can see crews practicing throughout the


day from around 4am to 8pm. ¬¬The two primary communities that can be engaged are the greater Orlando community and the local neighborhood of the Lake Fairview community. They can potentially be brought into the space to engage the lake, learn about rowing, spectate races, or just enjoy the park.


Analysis of Conditions The site poses a few unique issues. It is close to an existing parking lot, paved with brick, is shared with the softball fields. Typically, the day to day use isn’t affected by the joint use, however, some Saturdays in the spring when the clubs are hosting regattas on the lake and there are softball tournaments going on, there is a severe shortage of parking. This condition also poses an issue for the boat trailers using the parking lot during the regattas. Frequently at this site, the crew trailers and boats in the parking lot become blocked in by people looking for softball parking. In terms of hosting a regatta, there are also not ample dock conditions for the rowers to use for launch and recovery of boats post-race. Race viewing locations are not ample. Restroom facilities, currently housed in an abandoned and dilapidated outbuilding next to the Edgewater boathouse are inadequate for the volume of use required. In addition to the infrastructural site conditions, the site is prone to flooding and unstable ground conditions because of the soil type, elevation, and proximity to the water. For the rowers to walk over this ground, it must be stabilized.


Lake Fairview Park and the surrounding context.

Lake Fairview Park and the site.

1. Lake Fairview Marina 2. Existing Restroom 3. Boat trailer storage 4. Coaches boat ramp 5. Edgewater HS boathouse 6. ORC boathouse 7. Shared floating dock




development of the boathouse Boathouse Impact on Site

The process of developing the boathouse first begins with identifying the program and the group that will use and interact with the boathouse. The concept of the boathouse began when talking to a friend that rows at ORC. He mentioned that ORC had been sponsoring a community program for underprivileged youth in the Orlando area. They had great success and had around 90 different kids enrolled in the program. The issue arose when there wasn’t enough space or equipment in the ORC boathouse to accommodate the numbers. The question is where to house the rowers and their equipment? What is needed? How can the boathouse react to and engage the community? What will the impact of the facility be on the site? The boathouse is designed around the future Orlando community rowing program. The main areas of the program should include spaces for boats of all sizes (singles or “1x”, doubles or “2x”, pairs or “2-“, quads or “4x”, fours or “4+”, and eight or “8+”) . Rowing shells do not need to be in a conditioned space, however they do need to be kept out of the sun which degrades the resin which holds the boats together. These areas should also hold oars and other equipment like CoxBoxes and SpeedCoaches. Other areas that need to be conditioned are restroom spaces, offices, weight room, and erg room. The important introduction of space to this boathouse is a community


area; a place where people from outside the rowing community can come into the boathouse and experience the sport. Aside from the spatial program of the boathouse, the site program also has requirements unique to this scope of project. The site must accommodate the parking of boat trailers, team hospitality trailers and parking for all teams on a daily basis. In addition, the site must accommodate boat trailers of visiting teams during regattas. The site must also be able to hold the additional visitors to the site, have a viewing area for spectators, and an area for team tents to be set up. There must also be a way for the visiting and home teams to get from the boathouse or their trailers to the lake side of the site. Ample docking surface is also required for daily and regatta accommodations.

ORC Practice on Lake Fairview with the Park in the Background.


Inspiration of the Mechanics Upon analysis of the equipment and the stroke, the most striking thing is unifying nature of the stroke, primarily the swing. The swing signifies the synchronization of a crew. It must be done in harmony. Introducing the idea and mechanics of swing to the design, coupled with the given constraints of the site, and the parameters of the boats begin to allow for spatial opportunities. The question becomes how to incorporate that into the design. The side lends something to this in the form of existing building layouts and shoreline conditions. The curvature of the shoreline leads the boathouse to respond to that condition, while the edge of Lee Road lends itself to impact the street edge of the boathouse. Beginning with several schemes using the angles of the body swing for three different boat bays was the starting point. Three bays were chosen to house the boats as follows: one bay for sculling boats (singles and doubles), one bay for fours and quads, and one bay for eights. Their dimension was based on uniformity and off of the scale of the racing shells. The bays would be 27 feet wide. The boat bays were designed first, since they were the most critical portion of the boathouse. In scheme 1, the three bays are angled off of the same pivot point, like the hips in the stroke. The main portion of the


program is situated at the street face of the building. This scheme doesn’t allow for the community to interact with the space and creates a barrier between the street and the lake. In addition, the boats aren’t given the proper access to the lake, and this boathouse becomes segregated from the others. In scheme 2, to better introduce the idea of community and strengthen the metaphor of swing, the sculling bay is detached from the fours and eights bays and placed with the portion of the structure that is to be conditioned. This move begins to open up movement from the front of the boathouse to the rear of the boathouse. The restroom to be shared by all the boathouses at the park is moved away from the main building to allow it to stand alone. Similar issues to scheme 1 still exist. In the third scheme, all of the boat bays are rotated to allow porosity through the building from the street side to the lake side. They are separated to allow the more communal bits of program to intermingle. The incorporation of community into the rowing dimension can begin to form. It also allows for the inclusion of the existing boathouses and better access to the water.


scheme 1 3 bays Mimics swing from hips Restroom facility attached with roof Main conditioned space adresses street face of site

scheme 2 Sculling bay moves to conditioned space block Restroom fully separates Street facade is manipulated


scheme 3 All boat bays intersect program Porosity is created Boat bays react to shore conditions


An adjustment to Scheme 3 gives better access to the water while still retaining the idea of swing and boat proportions. Program is introduced.


Porosity and Views The second scheme began to address a way to engage the community and activate the potential of the lake. The lake isn’t something that should be closed off; it should be enjoyed by anyone who passes, rower or not. By re-orienting the boat bays in the third scheme, there is an opportunity for more porosity through the boathouse. This porosity can be used to control the views and the access to different parts of the site. The different parts of the program can be pulled apart or squeezed closer. This gives opportunity, for example, outside of the erg and weight room to leave a greater amount of space for outdoor workouts. It also gives the opportunity to control the views from the parking lot to the lake while allowing the offices to retain a quiet functionality.

solid construct. Concrete is chosen for this application because it creates a sense of protection of the racing shells. Circulation is also important to this concept of porosity. Circulation often becomes an enclosed system, which limits the interaction of the people with certain parts of the program. While it is necessary to maintain security of the site and equipment, the building must also allow for interaction from the outside community. A diagram of a closed circulation corridor moving to an outside, open circulation pattern, framed in steel creates a porosity between the parking area and the entry.

The ability for teams to move through the site during a regatta is also important. The boat bays become a way to allow physical porosity through the movement of the boats and visual porosity through the either opened or transparent bay doors that secure the shells within the bays. It also allows for materiality of the boathouse to begin to take shape. Porosity isn’t just about the physical movement, but the layered views from the lake to the front of the site and vice versa. The community spaces can become visually porous, using people and skin to control the views, while the boat bays and their physical movement can become a more




Site and Function As previously stated, the site has many conditions that need to be addressed. On the rear of the site, the primary concern is the area that floods after severe rain. Strategies to mitigate it went through several iterations of design. The first phase involved creating small retaining walls in the ground to shore up the soil. This however did not allow for ease traverse of the land, which is necessary to move the boats from their resting place in the boat bays to the water to be rowed. A large raised dock system was next. This didn’t allow for flexible space in the rear of the boathouse for things like washing boats, workouts, spectating, or community events. It also didn’t allow for easy access to the docks of visiting teams at regattas. The final iteration of that strategy involved dredging a portion of the area out and controlling the new, deeper water with retaining walls, while mimicking the fixed-to-floating dock scheme common in boathouses. This also allowed for more floating dock space, pertinent to a successful regatta or section. The increase in the floating dock area allowed for more boats to launch at the same time. It also gave way to have ample space in the rear of the boathouse for the other functions mentioned.

ing wall as a viewing platform for teams to set up their tents on race day. It also keeps the spectators away from the boathouse while teams are trying to quickly move about in preparation for the race.

The parking lot posed the final major site issue. The parking lot, while seeming mundane, had the most potential to engage the community and bring them into the boathouse. Currently the parking lot is a flat paved brick lot. As previously mentioned, the parking lot services the existing boathouses, a picnic area, and several softball fields. This sometimes causes significant congestion. The parking lot is also used by the current rowing teams as a place to run and warm up for their rows. The large amount of brick causes an immense amount of radiant heat to come off the bricks in the afternoon, thus creating discomfort for anyone running there. A two fold solution was necessary to address this issue. Drawing from the lines created by the impact of the boathouse on the site, the notion is that the boathouse reaches into the community and etches its mark into an area greater than just its footprint. Sloped areas begin to pull out of the ground with parking surrounding them. These slopes function in three parts. The Spectating space was also necessary. first is as a green space where less heat is The boathouse sits at the finish line of absorbed, creating a cooler atmosphere the 1500m race course. This became an for those running in the lot. The second opportunity to use one edge of the retain- is as flexible workout or picnic space for


members of the community to come and engage the site. The third function is as a protected and dedicated place for boat trailers of visiting teams to park during regattas. The trailers and tow vehicles can pull up onto the grassed areas, unload their boats, and carry on typical race day itineraries without facing interference from the softball players and spectators parked vehicles. Likewise, this also benefits the softball players using the site, as they will have a more dedicated parking area.

The idea of extending the boathouse into the parking lot and experimenting with retaining walls as a means to mitigate the flooding issues at the rear of the site.

Another component of the site was the connection of the boathouse to the site. How can a visitor who doesn’t know anything about rowing understand the sport and the function of the building before they touch the equipment? This question led to an idea of duality. The duality is created by mimicking experiences on the street side of the boathouse that are essential to the lake side functionality. By creating the same experience of traversing water via dock to reach your goal (for the rowers the lake, for the visitors some space within the boathouse) there becomes a tangible understanding of experience. That coupled with the scaled understanding of the boat bays which are the width of a single and the length of an eight, the visitor begins



develop a sense of camaraderie and understanding with the rowers. This begins to better help them communicate their ideas about the sport to the rowers and gives the rowers a tool to teach the newcomers about the sport and its mechanics. The boathouse becomes a teaching tool. Being able to draw members of the community in and have them immediately understand something through its architecture and its function gives the program more purpose. In this moment the boathouse also becomes a tool for outreach that works to unify the rowing community and the local community.


Envisioning Purpose The boathouse has three primary functions which sometimes overlap; daily use, regatta use, and community event use. These functions offer varying degrees of community involvement, creating a dynamic program that affords the flexibility needed to bring the local and rowing communities together. The day to day use of the boathouse will require coaches to have offices to oversee operations. A typical itinerary for a rower would be to arrive at the boathouse, warm-up or stretch in the workout room, take oars down to the dock, carry the boat down and launch, row for around and hour and a half, return to the dock, carry boat up, wash boat, put oars and boat away, stretch again, maybe lift weights, shower and change, and leave the boathouse. The separation of bays allows the sweep teams and scullers to have their own space so there isn’t any tripping over each other. The multiple floating docks for launch and recovery also aid in this process. The rowers are primarily using the back of the boathouse, as most of their time is spent on the water. Their primary areas of program use are the boat bays, restrooms, and weight/ erg room. The regatta use is similar, however, the boat bays become a more public display. The entire site is utilized as visiting teams park their trailers, walk to the docks, spectators perch their tents, and


the home club readies their boats inside. The regatta offers the most people the opportunity to experience the site and lake. There is still a need for privacy in this case for the boat bays. While the doors would all be open and people could walk in, the visiting teams would use a side walk way that connects the parking lot to the dock. The community event space has the opportunity to engage more non-rowers. This function utilizes primarily the parking lot side of the boathouse and the community space. The space is designed to be flexible. Its central location in the boathouse anchors the diagram of sing in the boathouse and shows the importance of community to the boathouse. Events like weddings, parties, or meetings can be held here.








The Importance of Materiality Developing the materiality of the boathouse elements was essential to conveying the function and experience of each portion of the program. The boat bays required a protective materiality to shield the boats from degrading sun and other damaging weather conditions. They required shelter. The boathouses anchor the program, just as the swing anchors the stroke. These bays are purpose built. Concrete was the material selected for its brute like properties. The community spaces, like the event room, erg and weights room, and offices required a different approach. These were moments for transparency and porosity; moments to engage the community with the lake. Glass created transparency, but there is also a need for protection of these spaces. Concrete, complimentary to the boat bays, became a way to control view and offer privacy at certain moments. A wood slat skin system became a way to talk about scale of the boat and its history, representing the ribs and the making techniques of the past. Glass is also used as a medium for lighting. Clerestory windows around the tops of each boat bay provide some ambient natural lighting without directly exposing the boats to the harsh sun. The steel structure unifies the boathouse, borrowing language from the steel racks used to hold boats. Scale of the structure is also important as it grounds the idea of rhythm and swing from the stroke. It works to create an entry space that still engages the outdoors. It allows visitors the opportunity to seek protection and have an understanding of threshold to the building while still engaging


the site and its context. This lends back to the idea of duality in the site. By creating a controlled experience of entry, but not restricting the movement in and out of that space, visitors get a response similar to the rowers as they carry their shells out of the boathouse and down to the water. Water is an element used in the site to aid in the experience. By controlling the water and architecturalizing its placement, visitors can be transported across it to begin to experience some of the same sensations as a rower on the dock or a rower on the water. It is used in the parking lot side of the site to encourage entrance to the building, and as a preview to the lake behind it.


Design Descisions Certain design decisions were made to enhance the experience of the space. The clerestory windows were added to the boat bays to allow for the ambient lighting of the space, creating a more comfortable atmosphere. The massing of the erg room was allowed to be altered to accommodate a deck for erging outdoors. The large glass wall facing the courtyard of the community space is moveable to create a larger indoor/ outdoor space. The roof design and sectional qualities of the building were also explored to reiterate the diagram of swing. Attention was paid to the scale of moving the boats from the bays to the dockside. This was done to optimize the dock shape and layout, while adhering to the boathouse’s diagram and proportions. The element of water was used throughout the site to create a connection with the lake. Boat trailers were given a spot. This trailer parking area includes the Edgewater, North Orlando, and Orlando Rowing Club trailers. Reverence and inclusion was paid to the existing teams and their boathouses so as not to detract from the active numbers of participation. The restrooms were also placed near their original position so to encourage inclusion and use between all teams at Lake Fairview Park. Design decisions were made to pay homage to the rowers and contributors of the past. The idea of stacking the erg and weight rooms came from the diagram of George Pocock’s boat building loft and workshop at the University of Washington. His loft sat atop the main boathouse and weight room. His place, considered a place to gain wisdom by the Washington rowers, was always revered. Their minds grew stronger from talking to


Pocock, and the knowledge he instilled made them better rowers. By placing the erg room on top of the weight room, a similar notion can be reached. The erg room is where young rowers perfect their stroke and grow strong mentally on the ergs. Fostering this historical reference gives purpose to the space. Decisions were also influenced by my own personal experience and attachment to the site. Learning to row on Lake Fairview as a high schooler, I have seen the lake change significantly over the years and have seen the community and rowing team reactions to these changes. Knowing about these events and understanding them from their core as a rower and member of the community gave me the opportunity as a designer to explore the full potential of the constraints from the perspective of architecture.

Lakeside Perspective of Boathouse



Future Implications

The Boathouse and Community The impact the new boathouse could have on this site has the potential to be unlimited. Lake Fairview is the appropriate size to hold many top level high school (1500m distance) and masters (1000m distance) races, but cannot under the current conditions. By adding parking and regatta infrastructure, the site has the potential to add economic stimulus to the local economy, as has happened in Sarasota with the addition of the new Nathan Benderson Park. Beyond economic potential, the boathouse can act as a unifying feature in the community. It can become a space for all demographics to come together and enjoy the water and the company of each other. The weight/ erg room for example, has the potential to hold community spin or yoga classes. There is potential to allow sailing, paddleboarding, dragon boating, and many other sports to the program of the boathouse that would draw in even more members of the community. There is also the impact the boathouse can have on the local youth. By creating more inclusive activities like rowing, more kids can be engaged. This can give a lot of underprivileged kids the opportunity to learn a sport that could earn them a scholarship to college. It could create an opportunity for a disabled member of the community or an injured war veteran the chance to experience a sport they can

participate in. It can expand the opportunities for retirees and adults to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. The boathouse can also create a new opportunity for architecture in Orlando. In a city where healthcare and residences make up a majority of new construction, a community based project can offer a different approach and style to design. With the engagement of the lake also comes an awareness for sustainability and conservation. Keeping the water ways clean can be made aware. Protecting native Florida species can be introduced. The potential for the surrounding community to learn a great deal about their ecosystem is created due to their engagement with the resource. There is unlimited potential for growth, inclusion, awareness and community in a project like this. Boathouses are an often overlooked part of communities, but with the correct visibility and design, can bring communities closer and become a tool for teaching and learning, sport, and camaraderie.




It’s a great art, is rowing. It’s the finest art there is. It’s a symphony of motion, and when you’re rowing well, why it’s nearing perfection. You’re touching the divine. It touches the you of you’s, which is your soul. -George Yeoman Pocock

index of boathouses

location key

northeast west



typologies university Any boathouse housing a college or university rowing program will be classified as the “University” typology. club Any boathouse housing a master’s, adaptive, or high school club that allows participation of multiple area schools will be

classified as the “Club” typology.

high school

classifed as the “High School” typology.

training center

Any boathouse housing a high school rowing program where the members of that team are from a sole high school will be

Any boathouse housing a United States National Team Training Center or is home to multiple independent national team boats will be classified as the “Training Center” typology.




KY EBRIGHT BOATHOUSE Architect: Ashley & Evers Location: Oakland, California Year Built: 1925 Typology: University Team: University of California

SEATTLE ROWING CENTER Architect: Unknown Location: Seattle, Washington Year Built: Unknown Typology: Club Teams: Seattle Rowing Club Lake Washington Rowing Club

Stanford rowing center Architect: Hoover Associates Location:Redwood City, California Year Built: 1999 Typology: University Teams: Stanford University


CONIBEAR SHELLHOUSE Architect: Miller/Hull Location: Seattle Washington Year Built: (1949), (1994), 2005 Typology: University Team: University of Washington

The University of Washington’s Conibear Shellhouse sits on the banks of Lake Washington in Seattle, Washington. A replacement for the original shellhouse built in the 1800’s, the new facility blends the tradition of the old with the technological advancements of the new. The new shellhouse represents the vernacular of the old by having the boat bays low on the building, at water level, with a larger community area above. In the old boathouse, George Pocock, a boat builder housed his workshop. Now a community room for the rowers, the space houses the “Husky Clipper,” the Pocock built shell raced by the 1936 Husky crew that represented the United States at the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. The placement of the shell in the space pays hommage to the past use of the space, Pocock and his work, and the work of all Husky crews before.



T. GARY ROGERS ROWING CENTER Architect: Charles Bloszies Architects Location: Oakland, California Year Built: 2004 Typology: University Team: University of California

zlac rowing club Architect: Lillian Rice Location: San Diego, California Year Built: 1932 Typology: Club Team: ZLAC Rowing Club




wms boathouse Architect: Studio Gang Location: Chicago, Illinois Year Built: 2013 Typology: Club/University Team: Chicago Rowing Foundation

Chicago’s WMS Boathouse sits along the banks of the Chicago River. The diagram of the boathouse stems from an analysis of the stroke of a sculler. A time lapse of the stroke was analyzed, which gave way to the “V” and “M” shaped roof sections. Beyond formal measure, these sections create south facing clerestory windows to be introduced into the design, allowing for ambient natural lighting to fill the boathouse. The separation of the boathouse and tank room gives the site plan and organization of the boathouse a similar reading to the Princeton University boathouse and the Harry Parker Boathouse in Boston. The WMS Boathouse was built at an interesting time in the sport of rowing, as it was beginning to gain popularity and momentum after the London Olympics in 2012. Sports that see great success in an Olympic setting tend to see a significant increase in participation domestically just after the Olympiad. In 2012, the United States saw 3 medals won in the rowing events as the men’s 4- and women’s quadruple scull earned bronze medals, and the women’s eight won gold. These victories abroad gave way to new interest back in the U.S. promoting a more well known basis for the sport.



BECKWITH BOATHOUSE Architect: Neuman-Monson Location: Iowa City, Iowa Year Built: 2009 Typology: University Team: Universita of Iowa Women 11/2/2015

RowAmerica Hamilton ­ Google Maps

RowAmerica Hamilton

ROW AMERICA|HAMILTON Architect: Champion Paper Location: Hamilton, Ohio Typology: Club Team: RowAmerica|Hamilton

Image capture: Aug 2013


Architect: Rand Elliot + Associates Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Street View - Aug 2013 Year Built: 2006 Typology: Club, High School Team: OKC Riversport


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CHK|CENTRAL BOATHOUSE Architect: Rand Elliot + Associates Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Year Built: 2015 Typology: University Team: University of Central Oklahoma

DEVON BOATHOUSE Architect: Rand Elliot + Associates Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Year Built: 2012 Typology: University, National Training Center Team: Oklahoma City University USRowing

Minneapolis Rowing Club Architect: VJAA Architects Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota Year Built: 2001 Typology: Club Team: Minneapolis Rowing Club


Porter Boathouse Architect: Kee Architecture Location: Madison, Wisconsin Year Built: 2005 Typology: University Team: Universita of Wisconsin

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan Year Built: 1999 Typology: University Team: University of Michigan

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA BOATHOUSE Architect: HGA Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota Year Built: 2007 Typology: University Team: University of Minnesota




BELEN JESUIT PREP BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Miami, Florida Year Built: Unknown Typology: High School Team: Belen Jesuit Crew

BOONE HIGH SCHOOL BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Orlando, Florida Year Built: Unknown Typology: High School Team: Boone High School

CHARLES CORKERY BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Orlando, Florida Year Built: 1996 Typology: Club Team: Orlando Rowing Club


CLERMONT COMMUNITY BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Clermont, Florida Year Built: 2014 Typology: Club Team: Lake County Rowing Association

dennis kamrad BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Orlando, Florida Year Built: 2005 Typology: High School, Club Team: Edgewater High School

EVANS ROWING club Architect: Unknown Location: Jacksonville, Florida Year Built: Unknown Typology: High School Team: Evans Rowing Association


FLORIDA TECH BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Melbourne, Florida Year Built: Unknown Typology: University Team: Florida Institute of Technology

GAINESVILLE AREA ROWING BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Gainesville, Florida Year Built: 1998 Typology: Club Team: Gaineville Area Rowing

JOHN McLAIN BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Orlando, Florida Year Built: 2013 Typology: High School Team: Lake Brantley Rowing Assoc.


JACKSONVILLE UNIVERSITY BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Jacksonville, Florida Year Built: Unknown Typology: University Team: Jacksonville University

LYMAN HIGH SCHOOL BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Longwood, Florida Year Built: 2009 Typology: High School Team: Lyman Rowing Association

Mel-hi enclosure Architect: N/A Location: Melbourne, Florida Year Built: 2005 Typology: High School Team: Melbourne High School


MIAMI ROWING AND WATERSPORTS CENTER Architect: Unknown Location: Miami, Florida Year Built: 1983 Typology: Club Team: Miami Rowing Club

NATHAN BENDERSON PARK BOATHOUSE Architect: Guy Peterson OFA Location: Sarasota, Florida Year Built: Unbuilt Typology: Race Venue Team: N/A

PEYTON BOATHOUSE Architect: Peterson Architects Location: Jacksonville, Florida Year Built: 2009 Typology: High School Team: The Bolles School


Pine Crest Rowing Center Architect: Unknown Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Year Built: 2014 Typology: High School Team: Pine Crest Academy Crew

RONALD SHANE WATERSPORTS CENTER Architect: Unknown Location: Miami Beach, Florida Year Built: (1995), 2007 Typology: University, Club Team: Barry University Miami Beach Rowing Club University of Miami

SOUTH ORLANDO ROWING ASSOCIATION Architect: N/A Location: Orlando, Florida Year Built: Under Construction Typology: Club Team: South Orlando Rowing Assoc.


SPACE COAST CREW BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Melbourne, Florida Year Built: 2004 Typology: Club Team: Space Coast Crew

Stetson Training Center Architect: Unknown Location: Deland, Florida Year Built: Unknown Typology: University Team: Stetson University

U.T. BRADLEY BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Winter Park, Florida Year Built: 1975 Typology: University Team: Rollins College


UCF INTERCOLLEGIATE ROWING CENTER Architect: HOK Architects Location: Orlando, Florida Year Built: 2009 Typology: University Team: University of Central Florida

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Gainesville, Florida Year Built: 1985 Typology: University Team: University of Florida

WALTON BOATHOUSE Architect: Peterson Architects Location: Jacksonville, Florida Year Built: 2004 Typology: High School Team: Jacksonville Episcopal HS




BACHELOR’S BARGE CLUB Architect: Unknown Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Year Built: 1893 Typology: Club/ University Team: Bachelor’s Barge Club Drexel University

C. BERNARD SHEA ROWING CENTER Architect: Peterson Architects Location: Princeton, New Jersey Year Built: (1913), 1999 Typology: University/ Training Center Team: Princeton University USRowing

CAMBRIDGE BOAT CLUB Architect: Unknown Location: Cambridge, Massechussetts Year Built: (1909), (1947), 2009 Typology: Club Team: Cambridge Boat Club


CAPITAL ROWING CLUB Architect: Unknown Location: Washington, D.C. Year Built: 2003 Typology: Club Team: Capital Rowing Club

CASPERSEN ROWING CENTER Architect: Unknown Location: Princeton, New Jersey Year Built: (1997), 2003 Typology: Club, Training Center Team: Lawrencville School Peddie School PNRA Mercer USRowing

COLLYER BOATHOUSE Architect: HGA Location: Ithaca, New York Year Built: (1956), 2009 Typology: University Team: Cornell University


CONSHOHOCKEN ROWING CENTER Architect: Unknown Location: Conshohocken, Pennsylvania Year Built: 2013 Typology: High School Team: Haverford School Malvern Prep

CAMDEN COUNTY BOATHOUSE Architect: SOSH Architecture Location: Pennsauken, New Jersey Year Built: 2011 Typology: High School/ Club/ University TEAM: Rutgers University-Camden Bishop Eustace HS Collingswood HS Haddon Township HS Haddonfield Crew Moorestown HS South Jersey Rowing Club

CORNELL BOATHOUSE Architect: Unknown Location: Poughkeepsie, New York Year Built: 1898 Typology: University Team: Marist College


DeWOLFE BOATHOUSE Architect: ARC|Architectural Resources Cambridge Location: Boston, Massechussetts Year Built:1999 Typology: University Team: Boston University

FAIRMOUNT ROWING CLUB Architect: Walter Smedley Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Year Built: 1904 Typology: Club Team: Fairmount Rowing Association

HAROLD W. PIERCE BOATHOUSE Architect: Anderson Beckwith and Haible Location: Cambridge, Massechussetts Year Built: 1966 Typology: University Team: MIT


FONTANA BOATHOUSE Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright Location: Buffalo, New York Year Built: 2007 Typology: Club Team: West Side Rowing Club

HENDERSON BOATHOUSE Architect: Graham Gund Architects Location: Brighton, Massechusetts Year Built: 1990 Typology: University Team: Northeastern University

HUBBARD HALL Architect: Muse PC Location: Annapolis, Maryland Year Built: (1930), 2012 Typology: University Team: US Naval Academy


harry parker boathouse Architect: Anmahian-Winton Architects Location: Brighton, Massechusetts Year Built: 2008 Typology: Club, University Team: Community Rowing, Inc. Boston College

The Harry Parker Boathouse is located on the Charles River just outside of Boston, Massechusetts. Designed by Anmahian- Winton Architects in Boston. The building is created to allow for workout space that is convertible to community space. Much as the title of the club suggests, Community Rowing, Inc. (CRI) is one of the first programs in Boston to allow for the participation of all ages and demographics. Community Rowing has one of the largest adaptive rowing programs in the US. It also plays host to Boston College’s women’s rowing team, rounding out the already impressive numbers of the club in the middle school, juniors, master’s, and adaptive programs. The boathouse itself is clad in a Prodema wood system designed to open and close as the weather deems appropriate for ventilation in the boat bays. The conditioned portion of the boathouse, which houses ergs, weights, locker rooms, offices, and community spaces, is clad in a Prodema system that is designed to be an abstraction of both the water ripple pattern and the CRI logo. The adjacent glass sculling pavillion houses all of the small boats and uses a system similar to the main building for ventilation of the storage area.



NEWELL BOATHOUSE Architect: Peabody & Stearns Location: Cambridge, Massechusetts Year Built: 1903 Typology: University Team: Harvard Men’s Crew

PENN AC BOATHOUSE Architect: Wilson Brothers Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Year Built: 1873 Typology: Club Team: Penn AC

PGRC BOATHOUSE Architect: James Sidney Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Year Built: 1861 Typology: Club Team: Philadelphia Girl’s Rowing Club


POTOMAC BOAT CLUB Architect: A.B. Mullet & Co. Location: Washington, D.C. Year Built: 1908 Typology: Club Team: Potomac Boat Club

RIVERSIDE BOAT CLUB Architect: John McAulliffe Location: Cambridge, Massechusetts Year Built: 1912 Typology: Club Team: Riverside Boat Club

SHOEMAKER BOATHOUSE Architect: Peterson Architects Location: Medford, Massechusetts Year Built: 2006 Typology: University Team: Tufts University


vesper | malta Architect: GH Hewitt Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Year Built: 1865 Typology: Club Team: Vesper Boat Club Malta Boat Club

One of the oldest boathouses in the nation, Vesper Boat Club and Malta Boat Club’s shared facility on Boathouse Row in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a benchmark around which many other clubs are designed. 10 Boathouse Row, like the other Boathouse Row clubs were designed and built in the late 1800’s as social clubs. Like the English counterparts around which they are based, the main activity of these clubs became rowing. They share architectural features with the English boathouses. The large upper floors, used for social gatherings, take visual and spatial precedent over the small, minimally adorned boat bays below. The Vesper and Malta boathouse is unique because it has two visually different styles present in the same building. This boathouse is also unique in the fact that its members were a catalyst for change in the sport in terms of opening it up to women and the community, which led to a great impact on the use of the existing space. The spaces that were once used solely for the purposes of swanky gatherings transformed into a place for working out and displaying the athletic proficiency of the clubs.



THOMPSON BOAT CENTER Architect: Unknown Location: Washington, D.C. Year Built: 1960 Typology: Club Team: TBC Racing Georgetown University

UNDINE BOATHOUSE Architect: Frank Furness Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Year Built: 1883 Typology: Club Team: Undine Barge Club

WASHINGTON COLLEGE WATERFRONT Architect: HGA Location: Chesterton, Maryland Year Built: Unbuilt Typology: University Team: Washington College


WELD BOATHOUSE Architect: George Walker Weld Location: Cambridge, Massechusetts Year Built: 1906 Typology: University Team: Harvard Women’s Rowing (Radcliffe)


rowing glossary

Adaptive rowing Rowing geared towards people with physical diabilities; usually with some specialized equipment.

Air Stroke A rower error where the oar’s blade is not completely in the water. This results in a complete lack of power and a lot of splashing. Alignment The process of lining up each shell’s bow ball prior to the start of a race so that they are level. Backsplash

The water thrown back toward bow by the oar’s blade as it enters the water during the catch. A proper catch should throw a small amount of water.


Refers to the bow ending of the track a rower’s seat slides on. The wheels of the seat should almost reach the backstop at the finish of each stroke.


The hatchet or spoon shaped end of the oar.

Boathouse Row Strip of iconic American boathouoses located on the Schuylkill River in Fairmont Park, just outside of downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Body Angle The amount of forward pivot of a rower’s torso stemming from the hips during the recovery for a proper catch position.



The forward section of the boat. The first part of the boat to cross the finish line.

Bow Ball A small rubber ball attached to the bow of each shell; used as a safety device and for determining which crew crosses the finish line first during a close race. Bow Number A card attached near the bow of each shell that identifies which lane the crew is assigned to. Bow Pair

The pair of sweep rowers in the bow of the boat. This would be seats 1 and 2 in an eight or a four. The bow pair has the most effect on the set of the boat.

Bow Seat The person in the seat closest to the bow (crosses the finish line first).


Refers to a type of boat (usually a four) where the coxswain rides lying down beneath the bow decking. Most racing fours are bowloaders.


The UK term for starboard despite the bow rower being on the starboard side or not.


A way of rigging a shell so that two consecutive rowers row on the same side; both double and triple buckets are possible.


Colored flotation devices that mark lanes and other various areas of the race course. Also used for marking hazards.


A wide collar on the sleeve of the oar that keeps the oar from slipping through the oarlock; also called a collar.



The moment the blade enters the water and initiates the drive of each stroke.


The reverse momentum resulting from the crews body weight moving toward stern during the recovery. Check is unavoidable but can be minimized through proper technique for optimal speed.


Short for Clip-on Load Adjusting Mechanism. A CLAM is a device that snaps on and off the sleeve of an oar to quickly adjust the inboard rig. Typically by 1 cm per CLAM.


A wide collar on the sleeve of the oar that keeps the oar from slipping through the oarlock; also called a button.


The distance between the 2-seat’s puddle on one stroke and the stroke seat’s puddle on the following stroke. The greater the distance, the more speed the crew has. Also called spacing.

Coxbox A coxswain’s portable voice amplifier; also has timing and stroke rating measurement capabilities.

Coxless A shell designed for rowing without a coxswain. Usually in a pair or a four.


Person (usually small) who steers the shell and coaches for the crew on the water.


Occurs from a blade work error where a rower is unable to properly remove their oar from the water. A crab can slow downor even stop the boat. In extreme cases a crab can eject the rower from the shell.



The part of the shell on top or the bow and stern that is covered with fiberglass cloth or a thin plastic.


Rower error when the blade of the oar goes deeper in the water than it should, slowing the boat down.

Double (2x) A sculling boat for two rowers.


Portion of the stroke that propels the boat through the water. The drive starts at the catch and ends with the release. The main power from the drive is generated by the rower’s legs pushing off the footstretchers.

Eight (8+) A sweep boat for eight rowers and a coxswain.

Engine Room

The rowers in the middle of a boat. For an eight, these would be seats 3, 4, 5, and 6; generally the largest and most powerful rowers of the boat



Also called an ‘erg’; the indoor rowing machine used for land based fitness training.


The act of rotating the oar at the finish so that the oar’s blade is parallel to the water during the recovery; the opposite of the squared position.


The fin attached to the keel of the shell that helps stabilize and maintain a straight course; also called a skeg.


The end of the drive when the rower removes the oar from the water and then feathers; also called the release.

FISA Short for Federation Internationale des Societes d’Aviron; international governing body for the sport of rowing. Foot Stretcher The adjustable footplate with built in shoes which allows the rower to adjust their position in the shell relative to the oarlock.

Four (4+ or 4-) A sweep boat for four rowers; can come with or without a coxswain.


Refers to the stern ending of the track a rower’s seat slides on; the wheels of the seat should almost reach the frontstop at the catch of each stroke.

Gate The bar across the oarlock that keeps the oar in place.


Grand Final Finals at a regatta for places 1 through 6.


The top rails of the shell; pronounced - ‘gunnels’


Part of the oar that rowers hold on to during each stroke.


The modern and current oar blade that is rectangular or hatchet shaped.

Head Race Type of race where crews start in a single file line and race for time; longer than sprint races, head races range from 4k to 10k and are usually run on rivers during the fall season.


The weight class in rowing for rowers over the lightweight restriction.


The body of the shell.


Length of the oar measuring from the button to the handle.


The center line of the hull.


Motorboat used by rowing coaches and referees.

Lay Back The amount of reverse pivot of a rower’s torso stemming from the hips during the second half of the drive for a proper finish position.


A rower whose weight allows them to compete in lightweight events. For men, this is usually 160 lbs. Women, 130 lbs.


Loom The part of the oar between the sleeve and the blade; comprises the majority of the length of the oar. Also called the shaft.

Macon The traditional u-shaped blade; also called a tulip or spoon.

Masters rowing

Rowing for anyone over the age of 21 that does not compete for the US National Team.


Any rower during their first season of competition.


Device used to drive the boat forward; an oar consists of several parts, in order from rower to water: Handle, shaft, sleeve, collar, shaft, blade. The oar attaches to the boat at the oarlock.


The u-shaped lock at the end of the rigger that attaches the oar to the shell. The oarlock allows the rower to rotate the oar between the squared and feathered positions.

Open Weight The weight class in rowing for rowers over the lightweight restriction; also called heavyweight.


The length of the oar measuring from the bottom to the tip of the blade.

Pair (2+ or 2-) A sweep boat for two rowers. Can come with or without a coxswain.


Petite Final Finals at a regatta for places 7 through 12.


A practice term used to signify an specific interval during a workout. For example, “The third piece of the 5 by 5 minutes was our best.”


The angle between a squared blade and a line perpendicular to the water’s surface. The standard pitch is around 4 degrees.

Pogies A type of glove with holes on the ends which allow the rower to row with bare hands on the handle. Port

Left side of the boat, while facing forward, in the direction of the movement.

Power 10 A call by the coxswain for the crew to row the next 10 strokes at maximal effort in an attempt to increase boat speed and take water on the opponent.


The disturbances in the water made by the blade during each stroke.

Quadruple sculls (4x) A sculling boat for four rowers; commonly called a quad.


The relationship between the time taken between the drive and recovery portions of the stroke. A good ratio will have about twice as much time taken during the recovery as the drive.



The portion of the stroke after the rower releases the oar from the water and returns to the catch position.


The end of the drive when the rower removes the oar from the water and then feathers. Also called the finish.


A second chance heat at a regatta to ensure that all crews have two chances to advance. These races are for all crews that didn’t qualify in during the heat. French word meaning ‘to save’ or ‘second chance’.


The u-shaped structures in the boat that the hull and riggers attach to.


Term used to describe how the boat is set up.


The triangular shaped metal device that is bolted onto the side of the boat and holds the oars.


Attaches to the skeg and controlled by the coxswain to steer the boat by attached cables.


The distance the shell moves during one stroke; this can be seen by looking at the distance between the puddles made by the same oar

Rush A rower error where the rower moves toward the stern during the recovery before the rest of the crew. This increases the amount of check during each stroke. 119


A rower who rows with two oars.


One of the two disciplines of rowing; in sculling each rower uses two oars (one in each hand) to move the boat.


Molded seat mounted on wheels that the rower sits on. The seats rolls on tracks which allow each rower to generate power with their legs.

Seat Number Refers to the rower’s position in the boat counting up from bow to stern. In an eight these are counted as the bow seat being 1, then 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and finally 8 in the stern. 8 seat is also referred to as ‘stroke’ seat.

Seat Race A coach’s tool for comparing two rowers. Two boats race against each other once then one rower from each boat switches positions and the two boats race again. Relative performance in the two races is used to compare the abilities of the two rowers.

Set Refers to the balance of the boat. An unset boat will lean to either port or starboard.


Refers to a down shift in stroke rate after the start of a sprint race; crews use the settle to get to their base stroke rating they will row the body of the race.


The part of the oar between the sleeve and the blade. Comprises the majority of the length of the oar; also called the loom.


Another name for the boat and is used interchangeably.

Single (1x) A sculling boat for one rower.



The fin attached to the keel of the shell that helps stabilize and maintain a straight course. Also called a fin.


A thin piece of plastic around the oar that keeps the oarlock from wearing out the shaft of the oar.

Slides Rails that the rower’s rolling seat roll on. Also called tracks. Sling

Portable folding boat holders. Two are required to hold a boat and are seen frequently at regattas.

Spacing The distance between the 2-seat’s puddle on one stroke and the stroke seat’s puddle on the following stroke. The greater the distance, the more speed the crew has. Also called cover.


A device that reads information from a keel mounted impeller about speed, distance, and stroke rating and displays it for the rower or coxswain on the device’s screen.

Split The amount of time it would take a rower or crew to complete 500 meters at their current pace. This can be applied to both a crew on the water or a person on an erg. Spoon The traditional u-shaped blade. Also called a macon or tulip. Sprint

The last portion of a race. Usually the last 250 meters of the race are run at a maximum stroke rate.


Sprint Race

Type of race where crews race side by side in lanes over 2000 meters. In the US, this is the standard race and the season is the spring and summer.


The act of rotating the oar prior to the catch so that the blade is perpendicular to the water. The opposite of the feathered position.


The small anchored boat that is used to hold the shells in place at the starting line.


Right side of the boat, while facing forward, in the direction of the movement.

Starboard Rigged A boat rigged so that the stroke seat is a starboard rower.


The beginning of the race. Crews will have a specified starting sequence of strokes to get the shell up to speed as quickly as possible. Stroke ratings during a start sequence range from the low 40s to the high 50s.


The rear of the boat; the direction the rowers are facing.

Stern Pair The pair of sweep rowers in the stern of the boat. This would be seats 7 and 8 in an eight or seats 3 and 4 in a four. The stern pair is responsible for setting the rating and rhythm for the rest of the crew.


A coxless sweep shell. Only for a pair or a four. Referred to as a ‘straight four.’


One complete cycle of the catch, drive, release, and recovery. The stern most rower in the boat. Responsible for setting the stroke rating and rhythm of the crew.


Stroke Rating The number of strokes per minute taken by a crew. During the body of the race a crew will maintain a rating in the mid to high 30’s.

Strokeside The UK term for port despite the stroke rower being on the port side or not. Swamped

Swamping occurs when a shell takes on too much water from rough conditions and is no longer rowable.


One of the two disciplines of rowing. In sweep rowing, each rower uses on oar and is paired with another rower of the opposite side. Sweep boats are called pairs (2 rowers), fours (4 rowers), and eights (8 rowers). All three classes can include a coxswain. Pairs and fours can come without a coxswain.


The feeling in the boat when all rowers are driving and finishing their strokes together.


An indoor training facility that consists of two rows of rowing seats between two tanks of water. Allows rowers to feel their strokes in the water in a stable and controlled environment. Used heavily when teaching novice rowers.


A steering device for a coxless boat. A rower can steer the rudder by changing the direction their foot points.


Rails that the rowers rolling seat roll on; also called slides.



The traditional u-shaped blade. Also called a macon or spoon.


National governing body of rowing in the United States.


Refers to the wake given off of a shell.

Washing Out A rower error when an oar comes out of the water during the drive and creates surface wash. This results in a reduction in speed and can disrupt the set of the boat.

Weigh Enough A very common call by a coxswain to tell the rowers to stop whatever they are doing.



Timeline of Equipment Use


Timeline of the Development of Oars



Unidirectional Carbon Fiber

Woven Carbon Fiber

Kevlar and Carbon Fiber Weave

Colored Kevlar and Carbon Fiber Weave

Double-Woven Carbon Fiber

Woven Kevlar

Western Red Cedar Veneer

Mahogany Veneer



Bachelor’s Barge Club: p. 95 Belakovskiy, Igor: p. 103 Bernet, Yoram: p. 76 Burke, Christian: p. 86 By Author: Cover, pp. 6, 21, 26, 27, 34, 38, 39, 69, 82, 86, 87, 88, 89, 92, 93, 100, 101, 115, 127, 128 Caldwell, Thomas: 107 Candelario, Susan: p. 104, 105 Capital Rowing Club: p. 96 Clarke, Mitchell: pp. 32, 33 Concept2: p. 19, 20, 113 Conshohocken Rowing Center: p. 97 Cronk, Margot: Cover Czar Engineering: p. 97 Day, Jodi: p. 89 Elliott + Associates: p. 83 Exeter Rowing Club: p. 29, 43, 109, 111 Fisher, David: p. 91 Georgetown University: p. 106 Google Maps: p. 35 Greenwood, Rebecca: p. 90, 91 Grudt, Kris: p. 96 Guy Peterson OFA: p. 90 HGA: p. 84, 96, 106 HRRA: p. 97 Kee Architecture: p. 84 Lednar, Justin: p. 91 Lehoux, Nic: p. 76 Lippett, Peter: p. 75 Loudenback, Doug: p. 82 Meyer, Justin: p. 82 Neilsen-Kellerman: p. 119 Nowack, Tom: p. 95 Pachoud, Jeff: p. 16 Rider, M.: p. 103 Rieck, Antony: p. 22, 90


Riekki, Laura: p. 41 Rkat: p. 102, 106 Rogers, Joel: p. 75 Rouse, Andrew: p. 92 Sarff, Krystina: p. 23 Schuylkill Navy: p. 98 Shin, Gowan: p. 77 Spinelli, Joan: 89 Stanford University: p. 75 Stevens, Christopher: 99 Stillner, Anna: p. 102 Studio Gang: p. 80, 81 University of Central Florida: p. 93 University of Michigan: p. 84 University of Washington Men’s Rowing: p. 23, 25 Unknown: p. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 95, 99, 102 VJAA: p. 83 Wheeler, Nick: p. 98 Wilde, Euda: p. 103 WinTech Racing: p. 20, 112, 115, 116, 117, 118


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Rhythm and Balance: Community Through the Architecture of Rowing  

Masters Research Project from the University of Florida School of Architecture.

Rhythm and Balance: Community Through the Architecture of Rowing  

Masters Research Project from the University of Florida School of Architecture.