Aug 16, 2022 - News

UPenn's boathouse gets a facelift

University of Pennsylvania's College Boat Club on the Schuylkill River.
A rendering of Penn's boat club on the Schuylkill River. Photo courtesy of EwingCole

The University of Pennsylvania's College Boat Club on the Schuylkill River is getting a 21st-century upgrade.

Driving the news: The $13.5 million renovations to the 1874 building on Kelly Drive expands the second floor and workout spaces, adds air conditioning for the first time and provides equity among male and female crew programs.

  • EwingCole is the firm leading the project.

Why it matters: The renovations are expected to help Penn recruit student athletes and allow for more efficient use of the nearly 150-year-old building.

  • "We were a little bit behind the times for Division I programs," Noah Gustkey, director of facilities for Penn Athletics, told Axios.
  • "This renovation puts us to the top of Boathouse Row," he added.

Of note: Three Penn teams make use of the building: the men's heavyweight and lightweight crews, and women's open weight team.

Details: The project restored the original stone structure, with the demolition and rebuilding of a previous addition, while maintaining the character of the building and Boathouse Row.

Upgrades include:

  • 2,500 square feet of additional space.
  • Expanded and upgraded locker rooms and "erg room" (shorthand for ergometer rowing machines) for training.
  • A restored "members room" on the second floor, original to the 1874 building, to expose its vaulted ceiling and other historic elements.
A rendering of the front of University of Pennsylvania's College Boat Club seen from Kelly Drive.
A rendering of University of Pennsylvania's College Boat Club seen from Kelly Drive. Photo courtesy of EwingCole

Between the lines: In the old boathouse, facilities and spaces for the women's crew program, like locker rooms, were smaller than those for the men's programs.

Flashback: Construction on the project began in July 2021.

  • The clubhouse was built between 1874-5 for a cost of around $8,000. The men's crew team first hoisted its banner in 1879.

What they're saying: Wesley Ng, entering his eighth season as Penn's women's rowing coach, said the updated boat house now matches the ambitions of Penn's rowing programs.

  • "There was always that disconnect where we knew what our ambition was to be champions of the Ivy League and be nationally competitive, but the facility never really felt like that around us," Ng said. "I think there's an alignment there."

What's next: The renovations are expected to be completed in September.

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