WMS Boathouse at Clark Park


Built 2013

Chicago Park District

Civic, Office

22,600 sf

Targeting LEED Silver


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As the City of Chicago works to transform the long-polluted and neglected Chicago River into its next recreational frontier, Studio Gang’s WMS Boathouse at Clark Park helps catalyze necessary momentum. 

By creating a key public access point along the river’s edge, it supports the larger movement toward an ecological and recreational revival of the Chicago River.

Youth rowing clubs, including the Chicago Training Center and Lincoln Park Juniors, brave the Chicago River nearly year-round to train competitive teams, build self-esteem and leadership skills, and advance their participants’ educational and life goals. The improved facilities of the new boathouses will allow for the expansion of these programs and extend their opportunities to youth across the city.

With structural truss shapes alternating between an inverted “V” and an “M,” the roof achieves a rhythmic modulation that lets in southern light through the building’s upper clerestory. In summer, the clerestory lets in fresh air, while in winter, it allows sunlight to warm the floor slab, minimizing energy use year-round.

The design of the boathouse translates the motion and rhythm of rowing into a sculptural roof form, providing visual interest while also offering spatial and environmental advantages that allow the boathouse to adapt to Chicago’s distinctive seasonal changes.

Video by Spirit of Space


Institute Honor Award, Architecture, American Institute of Architects, 2016

A+ Award, Jury Winner, Architizer, 2015

Shortlist, Sport and Civic Categories, World Architecture Festival, 2014

Citation of Merit, Distinguished Building Award, Design Excellence Awards, AIA Chicago, 2014

American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum, 2014

Merit Award, AZ Awards for Design Excellence, AZURE Magazine, 2014

Green Ribbon, Blue Ribbon Awards, Friends of the Chicago River, 2014

Consultant Team


Matrix Engineering, structural engineering

SPACECO, Inc., civil engineering

AECOM, waterfront civil engineering

Terry Guen Design Associates, landscape architect



Architectural Review — “The Flying Twist”

The August issue of British publication Architectural Review focuses on the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park in a major profile.


WMS Boathouse at Clark Park Featured in ArchDaily’s Top 100 American Architecture Projects

The WMS Boathouse is one of two Studio Gang-designed boathouses making the Chicago riverfront more accessible to the public.