Harry Parker Boathouse
20 Nonantum Road
Designer: Anmahian Winton Architects
The Harry Parker Boathouse in Boston, designed by Alex Anmahian and Nick Winton of Cambridge-based Anmahian Winton Architects, is an example of architecture changing a community. Commissioned by the nonprofit group Community Rowing, the $11.45 million, 30,000-square-foot boathouse had its first run this past season—and for the first time in the club’s 20-year history, it found itself fully staffed and able to expand its programming, including a popular girls’ rowing program called G-Row Boston.
The wave-like louvers featured on the side of the boathouse serve multiple functions: they naturally cool the structure and shade locker-room windows, while hiding mechanical elements. The other side of the building, which the architect compared to shark gills, terminates in 40-foot-wide hangar doors. The custom exterior skin is kinetic, expanding according to ventilation requirements. Consisting of a composite panel of Bakelite with a thin wood veneer, it will never change color from its carefully chosen hue, which mimics the fall foliage of nearby trees.
Though the design initially met with criticism because some favored a historicist approach, in the end the structure has been a hit, drawing visitors off the highway and helping spur a surge in memberships, as well as a 37 percent increase in annual appeal donations. The interior space is booked through 2011, and a number of weddings have already taken place, all of which, said Anmahian, help validate the very contemporary design—“a coup for this area,” he said.