The new Eleanor Boathouse at Park 571 in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood creates the opportunity for greater community recreation and environmental stewardship of the Chicago River. Designed by Studio Gang Architects, the 19,000-square-foot facility is the last of four new boathouses and river launches created by the Chicago Park District to reclaim the Chicago River as a major system of parks and water-based recreation.

The unique form of the two-building boathouse reflects the movement of rowing, according to Studio Gang’s founding principal Jeanne Gang. The design, incorporating alternating roof trusses, 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,” said Gang. “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.”

The striking design incorporates RHEINZINK in both roof and façade applications. Approximately 23,000 square-feet of RHEINZINK 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.

RHEINZINK was also used to clad one of the other four boathouses completed earlier and also designed by Studio Gang Architects. The WMS Boathouse at Clark Park on the northwest side of the city was the second of the new boathouses to open and utilized 7,000 square-feet of vertically-oriented RHEINZINK Flat-Lock Tiles for the façade.

The RHEINZINK panels for both projects were fabricated by RHEINZINK systems partner Sheet Metal Supply Ltd. (SMS), Mundelein, Ill.

Installation of the RHEINZINK panels on the Eleanor Boathouse was done by Bennett & Brosseau Inc., Romeoville, Ill. A competitive zinc flush panel was initially planned for the job but it was deemed too expensive, according to project manager Ryan Broom. “We got involved with the general contractor, Walsh Construction, to value engineer the project and suggested RHEINZINK Flat Lock Tiles as a good alternative,” Broom said. “RHEINZINK reduced the cost and provided the great diagonal look that Studio Gang wanted. It’s a ‘full zinc’ job with both the façade and the roof and really turned out nice.”

SMS vice president Ben Kweton credits Ryan Broom with providing the invitation to become involved in the project. “When Bennett & Brosseau approached us with the value engineering opportunity, we jumped at the chance to provide pricing and to remind the design team of the success of RHEINZINK on the earlier boathouse project,” Kweton said.

The design team also opted for a slightly hybrid version of traditional flat lock panels. “The tiles we fabricated had a slight offset at the top to bring the panel overlaps more into plane and to create a slight reveal,” Kweton said.

Installer Ryan Broom extolled the virtues of zinc. “It provides a great quality look and allows more architectural detailing than can be done with many other metals,” Broom said.

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