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Boathouse of Sustainability

Translucent transom, zinc and eco-friendly finishing

Boathouse May18 4


American cities are repurposing previously disused lands to create parks and public spaces. In Chicago, these improvements combined with escalating sustainability awareness are especially prevalent, as seen in the Eleanor Boathouse in Park 571.

Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects designed it to create a crucial access point along the Chicago River’s edge. As the city works to transform the long-polluted and neglected river into its next recreational frontier, the 19,000-square-foot, two building boathouse invites communities on the South Side and throughout the city to share in the river’s continued ecological and infrastructural revitalization.

Park 571 spans 3.06 acres and is located in the Bridgeport community on the South Side
of Chicago. Its new boathouse facility offers a 5,832-square-foot rowing training center and
a 13,171-square-foot boat storage building. The mechanically heated training facility contains
a workout center, multipurpose community room, main office and restrooms. The second
building provides space for a rowing office, a heated storage repair bay, vending area and boat
storage space for four rowing teams, and is at capacity with 75 rowing shells.

TRANSLUCENT TRANSOM

The unique design incorporates two alternating roof trusses, and according to Studio Gang’s
founding principal Jeanne Gang, was influenced by studying the rhythm and motion of rowing.
“The Chicago River boathouses are part of a new, environmentally friendly vision for the city’s
river,” she says. “By making the riverfront a destination for recreation, anchored by dynamic,
sustainable architecture, we hope to catalyze long-term stewardship and support of the river’s
remediation.”

PHOTO: WILLIAM ZBAREN PHOTO: TOM HARRIS, COURTESY OF STUDIO GANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF EXTECH

The larger of the two buildings features a translucent transom supplied by Pittsburgh-based Exterior Technologies Inc. (EXTECH) using its LIGHTWALL 3440 interlocking polycarbonate translucent wall system. Anthony Roofing, a business of Tecta America, Aurora, Ill., installed 2,288 square feet of EXTECH’s system in less than three weeks despite its complex geometry, supporting the project's schedule, aesthetic, performance and sustainability goals.

DAYLIGHTING AND FRAMING

Designers wanted the boathouse’s form to draw people to it, and have them learn and experience rowing and the valuable teamwork it instills. “Its alternating roof trusses were generated from studying [rowing] motion while creating functional, southfacing clerestory windows that bring in sunlight to warm the boat storage facility in colder months using minimal energy,” says Wei-Ju Lei, project architect in Studio Gang’s New York City office. “The windows are fritted to reduce bird strike.”

“Viewed from above, the facility looks like boats going through waves, and the EXTECH system resembles the shape of the rowing shells," says Tony Orlando, Anthony Roofing's project manager. “The architect and owner’s consultant said it was exactly the look they wanted. It’s a very appealing building. With just two people on-site, [our] team installed the substructure and entire system in three weeks. The polycarbonate system is so lightweight, yet heavy duty. One man can lift a 15- to 20-foot-long panel by himself and it’s not so fragile that you have to worry about every step you take. It also stands up to the high-wind loads and cold temperatures coming off the river.”

EXTECH director of product application and development, Kevin Smith, RA, says, “Our LIGHTWALL system, which does not require framing members within the field of the glazing, met the architects’ clean aesthetic to emphasize the unique roof form. The diffusing characteristics of the cellular polycarbonate reduce dependence on electric lighting and reduce solar heat gain into the building envelope, as well as reduce light pollution emanating from the building. Because it is a dry-glazed system, VOC emissions also are reduced. LIGHTWALL 3440 uses highly insulating, 100 percent recyclable, structural cellular polycarbonate and 38.95 percent recycled aluminum framing manufactured in Pittsburgh, within 500 miles of the Chicago site.”

PHOTO: WILLIAM ZBAREN PHOTO: TOM HARRIS, COURTESY OF STUDIO GANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF EXTECH

At less than 2 pounds per square foot, the framing system, with 40-mm structural, cellular, polycarbonate glazing, reduced the loading on the roof structure. Additionally, it meets the project's high thermal performance, fire rating, air infiltration and water penetration requirements.

Contributing to the EXTECH system’s sustainability, Wausau, Wis.-based Linetec painted the aluminum framing black using a 70 percent Polyvinylidene Fluoride resin-based finish. Linetec's senior marketing specialist, Tammy Schroeder, LEED Green Associate, contends, “No other coating system can withstand the rigors of nature and time like these. An environmentally responsible finisher, Linetec applies these high-performance painted coatings in a controlled facility, with a 100 percent air-capture system, that safely captures and destroys the VOCs present in liquid solvent-based paints with a regenerative thermal oxidizer. Utilizing this process provides finished products that are VOC-free to the building site.”

Approximately 23,000 square feet of Woburn, Mass.-based RHEINZINK America Inc.’s prePATINA blue-grey double lock standing seam panels cover the roof of both buildings. An additional 10,000 square feet of RHEINZINK flat lock tiles clad the façade in a diagonal installation. The RHEINZINK panels were fabricated by Sheet Metal Supply Ltd., Mundelein, Ill., and installed by Bennett & Brosseau Inc., Romeoville, Ill.

Permeable concrete surrounds the building and its site. “This is key to the project’s sustainability beyond the building, and reduces the burden on the Chicago River to absorb rainfall,” Lei says. The project has achieved LEED Silver certification.

PHOTO: WILLIAM ZBAREN PHOTO: TOM HARRIS, COURTESY OF STUDIO GANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF EXTECH