The Burk-Bergman Boathouse, located along Philadelphia's scenic and historic Boathouse Row, is home to the Penn's three varsity rowing programs and is a national historical landmark. the oldest portion was constructed in 1875 and successfully added-to over the next century. The boathouse has been transformed through a recent renovation by a team of Weitzman alums at EwingCole, William McCullough (MArch'92, Principal-In-Charge), Andrew Donaldson-Evans (MArch'03, CAS 1998, Design Principal), and Nicole Bronola (MArch'19, Designer). The recent renovation reconstructed 50% of the historic building, which was in a state of structural failure, and included a contextually sensitive addition that provides the space needed for a modern collegiate rowing facility.
The design concept reimagined the interior architecture with a contemporary counterpoint to the historic remnants of the original structure. The floorpan was overhauled to realize a complete reinvention of the boathouse: a gracious two-story entrance hall created to welcome student athletes and recruits; a central social space that showcases rowing and team legacy; and a modern Erg room with its tensile steel trusses that represent the evolution of the boathouse and sport from its origins to its current form. Historic features were preserved, celebrated, and in some cases given new life, transforming a window into a display case and a diseased oak tree into a live edge table and benches. The Penn Boathouse demonstrates how existing buildings can celebrate and preserve the past yet remain functionally relevant as a sort of living history.
Weitzman Development & Alumni Relations hosted a brunch during Penn's Alumni Weekend offering an intimate look at the newly renovated space. Dean Fritz Steiner and alum Taylor Knoche (MArch'16), president of the Penn Weitzman Alumni Association, hosted the event and gave a brief introduction, after which members of EwingCole's design team presented the project. Weitzman alums Nicole Bronola and Andrew Donaldson-Evans discussed the process of design and construction, and the stories that elements such as the tree, the trusses and the window tell. Guests enjoyed a private tour by Weitzman alums involved with the historical renovation. They were able to tour the facility inside and out.