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AIA Publications: 2004 Annual Design Awards Competition Gallery 
The Milwaukee Rowing Club at Kilbourn Landing
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Vetter Denk Architects, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Redevelopment Authority, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Beyer Construction, New Berlin, Wisconsin

Project Description

This boathouse project along the Milwaukee River, designed as a virtual non-building, is a landscape insertion that creates space for simple functions by retaining the surrounding soil. The design solution consists of the roof, tower, curtain wall and plaza.

Sloping towards the river, the building’s green roof becomes an extension of Kilbourn Park bluff, serving as a public park that overlooks the river. The 24-foot tower provides storage for the rowing oars, defines the site entrance and acts as an illuminated beacon in the night. A polycarbonate curtain wall faces the river and extends the entire length of the building, glowing softly at dusk.

The plaza provides a staging area for launching the sculls and doubles as a public gathering space with access to the river. The boathouse is graceful civic architecture, connecting the RiverWalk with the Beerline neighborhood.

Boat House

Boat House

Jury Comments

This is an easy project to fall in love with because of its clarity in both concept and presentation. It has an interesting combination of architectural elements and sustainability features. The structure itself sings with poetic fervor. Its simple gestures create a very open relationship with the water and the city. This project is very elegant.

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