Tufts University – Bacow Sailing Pavilion, Medford, MA

Tufts University’s sailing team enjoys a high-profile national reputation. Though it won numerous championships, it continued to operate out of a simple concrete structure built in the late 1940’s. Severely undersized, the building was barely able to house the team’s fleet of racing dinghies, coach boats, and a small workshop area, leaving no room for team-related facilities or support space.

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With the encouragement and support of alumni, the University engaged R E Dinneen to develop plans for a new, expanded sailing facility at the same location that would be worthy of the team’s reputation. Because the site is on the Commonwealth’s waterfront reservation land, restrictions were in place that would limit changes to the building’s footprint. For this reason, a decision was made to retain the existing concrete structure and expand upwards. The original boathouse was buried into the sloped grade with stairs leading down to dock- level access. This allowed the new design to expand upward two stories, while keeping the building massing modest in appearance at the approach grade.

Further analysis of the existing structure revealed a derelict structure, out of plumb with failing concrete and reinforcing rods. Several redesigns of the foundation and analysis of subsoil conditions led to the abandonment of the existing structure and the design of a new concrete and CMU lower level with a 2-story addition, thus creating a new 3-story sailing pavilion.

The design of the new Bacow Sailing Pavilion is inspired by the classic shingle style with extended gable roof, shake siding, and board & batten trim. The original lower dock level is now dedicated to expanded boat storage alone, with three bay doors opening to a newly refurbished boat launch apron. The new main entrance level above contains locker rooms and showers, along with an expanded maintenance shop. Stairs and elevator up to the third level lead to the Great Room, which is used for casual gatherings, training sessions and formal sit-down functions. A wall of glazed openings, under a broad arch, leads to an observation deck overlooking the waterside activities. Perimeter spaces include a smaller meeting room with library, the coach’s office, a kitchenette, storage and restroom. Both the building and the site conditions have been designed to be handicapped accessible.

Throughout the design and permitting process, the project team was heavily engaged with the Commonwealth’s Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR – the Landlord), the Department of Capital Asset Management (DCAM – the Leasing Agent), and the local Conservation Commission from the City of Medford.

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