University of Iowa, Beckwith Boathouse

Located along a bend in the Iowa River, this site provides an ideal location for training, competing, and spectating women’s collegiate rowing. The building is surrounded by mature cottonwood trees and is situated to embrace the river.

The ground level of the boathouse is positioned parallel to the water’s edge, providing direct river access for boats and crew. East of the main lobby is a state-of-the-art rowing tank that provides year-round competitive training.

The east end of the upper level is pulled back to create a second level terrace, located adjacent to the ergometer training room, allowing athletes to move training equipment onto the exterior terrace to train in natural conditions. Recessing the south wall also provides optimized sun control and creates the building’s prow-like profile.

Throughout the facility, connection to the exterior is maximized. Windows and mirrors are placed at floor level in indoor training spaces to provide river views during workouts.

The exterior of the building is clad in a durable fiber cement rain screen. The colorful facade provides an energetic complement to the surrounding river valley.

In addition to supporting the university’s competitive rowing program, the facility is also available to community rowers. The concept of community was incorporated fully into the design as the building achieved a LEED Gold rating, making this building not only a long-lasting contribution to the community, but also a responsible one. 

Project Type



Iowa City, Iowa


22,820 SF



LEED Rating



2010 AIA Iowa Sustainable Design Award