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Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse

Swindler Cove, Upper Manhattan
New York, New York


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Located on the Harlem River immediately south of Sherman Creek, the Speedo Boathouse reestablishes the historic presence of recreational boating facilities on Manhattan’s northern waterfront. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this area was the site of a number of boathouses, including those of Columbia and Fordham universities, that served a flourishing network of competitive rowing clubs. Rowing activities have continued at this location -- albeit on a smaller scale -- up to the present time. Columbia still uses the end of the bulkhead immediately south of the site as the finish line for its intercollegiate races.

The proposed boathouse is a public facility conceived of and developed by the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit, privately-funded organization that works in New York City to restore neglected landscapes to active public use. This project is part of the rehabilitation of the blighted shoreline area to be undertaken by New York City and State agencies and will constitute an important step in reclaiming a particularly significant stretch of New York City waterfront for recreational use.

To avoid harming the fragile intertidal environment, the boathouse is designed as a floating structure, as were the earlier boathouses located on the site. Access to the facility from the promenade atop the nearby embankment will be through a gated entrance and down a series of ramped fixed piers leading to floating docks. The first floor of the boathouse will contain storage space and a launching area for sixteen boats of various sizes; administrative, exercise, and meeting rooms will be housed on the building’s second floor. Spectators will be able to enjoy crew practices and races from the vantage of a generously sized second-floor deck.

At once informal and refined, the boathouse incorporates simple but strong forms, tied together by an expansive, bracketed, metal roof that provides protection from the sun and harsh weather and establishes a welcoming sense of shelter. The structure’s painted wood board-and-batten exterior walls and its decorative details recall time-honored maritime building traditions.