University of Pennsylvania

Madeira Shell House

Philadelphia, PA

Boathouse Row, located along a scenic stretch of the Schuylkill River, is one of Philadelphia’s most cherished landmarks and includes Madeira Shell House, home to the University of Pennsylvania’s three varsity rowing programs. Constructed in 1875, this is one of the oldest boathouses in the country. However, the facility has not been able to keep pace with the program’s demands and needs a comprehensive renovation to help Penn rowing meet its full potential. The design reconstructs and overbuilds an addition to the boathouse pavilion and addresses many operational deficits while revitalizing this iconic landmark. The design respects the historic exterior of the structure while completely renovating and modernizing the interior. Reconfigured program spaces include a soaring entrance lobby and grand hall featuring trophies and memorabilia, a lounge and meeting area with integrated A/V, a historic vaulted ceiling, and a restored balcony overlooking the river. Expanded to accommodate larger workouts and host special events, the new ERG room is enhanced by a panoramic view of the river, skylights providing ambient daylight, and an exposed structural system that is a modern interpretation of the building’s historic king post trusses. Improved boat storage and maintenance and modernized locker rooms, coaches’ rooms, and additional support space create a true home for Penn Rowing. Equal space for men and women athletes and a new elevator providing ADA access to the second floor makes the building a reflection of Penn’s values and mission of inclusion and opportunity and a showcase for their legacy.