You are on page 1of 3


Pulling Together

Collaboration between architect and engineer

produces a functional and aesthetically
pleasing steel-framed structure.

IN THE SPORT OF CREW, ALL TEAM sq. ft, steel-framed structure supported on system of ordinary concentrically braced
MEMBERS MUST PULL TOGETHER reinforced concrete grade beams and pres- frames. For many old and new boathouses
TO WIN; RACES ARE NOT WON BY sure-injected footings at the river’s edge. in this region, timber and/or engineered
A SINGLE ROWER. Similarly, building The first level, at grade, houses all the crew lumber are the predominant framing sys-
projects require collaboration and coordi- team equipment, including the shells and tems. However, the ability to construct a
nation—teamwork—to succeed. oars, with some ancillary space for storage butterfly roof with continuous eave over-
This proved true in 2005, when the and mechanical equipment. The second hangs–on budget and on time—necessi-
engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz and floor includes locker rooms, offices, meet- tated the use of structural steel. Steel per-
Heger (SGH) worked closely with Jeff ing rooms, and a grand multi-purpose room mitted a structure that was lighter in both
Peterson, of Peterson Architects, to design, with a wall of glass overlooking the river. material and appearance.
detail, and deliver a new, state-of-the-art The central element to Peterson’s con-
boathouse along the Malden River in the temporary design proposal was a sloping Anchoring the Program
greater Boston area for the Tufts Univer- butterfly-winged roof culminating in a 14- The boathouse is positioned with the
sity men’s and women’s crew teams. As with ft-tall glass wall overlooking the river. In long axis parallel to the river, which runs
many projects, a tight budget and construc- addition, the design exposed and empha- north to south. The valley of the butter-
tion schedule required a well-coordinated sized the structural framing of the roof and fly-winged roof slopes north-south at ½:12
team with early involvement from the overhanging eaves. and is off center to the west. Each wing of
structural engineer. Being involved early and understand- the roof slopes up from this valley. The
ing the architectural goals allowed SGH slope of the short wing (east) of the roof is
Buoyed by Teamwork to work closely with Peterson to develop ¾:12. The slope of the long wing (west) of
A boathouse, by its basic nature, has a preliminary details that would be the basis the roof is 1¼:12.
tight plan with a very specific program and of the structural design. Given the budget, The bay doors for the crew shells are
layout. Peterson had extensive experience schedule, and architectural ambition, SGH at the south of the long axis. The main
with boathouse design and construction, in recommended a system of composite struc- entrance is at the southwest corner of the
addition to personal experiences as a rower. tural steel floor framing, structural steel building, where pedestrians enter into a
The boathouse is an approximately 10,000 roof framing, and a lateral load resisting vestibule that contains a stair and eleva-
Top, left: The distinctive cantilevered roof is framed with HSS
columns and beams.
Top, right: The wood-framed deck is supported by steel can-
tilevers. All exterior steel received a three-coat paint system
Left: The tapered eaves are framed with tapered HSS sec-
tions fabricated by cutting an HSS at an angle and welding a
plate for a bottom flange.

tor for access to the second floor. The first typical connections as would eventually the roof are able to be the same depth as
and second floor vestibule in this location be developed by a steel fabricator (typical the typical floor framing spans (23 ft long
projects from the face of the building with in the Northeast), to understand which with a 10 ft spacing) while maintaining
a curtain wall that leans out from the build- connections should be explicitly detailed overall material economy.
ing. The butterfly roof extends beyond this by SGH (to control their geometry) and The roof framing is a 3 in. painted metal
projection. The second floor south façade— which connections would be performance- roof deck spanning 10 ft on center between
the high point of the sloping butterfly- specified (for design and economy) by the beams. For the area over the multi-purpose
winged roof—is a glass wall facing the river. steel fabricator. With this information in room, Peterson designed exposed, painted
Doors through the glass wall allow access hand, SGH-prepared preliminary struc- HSS beams, girders, and columns. Tapered
to a cantilever steel-framed deck that wraps tural designs, plans, and details. HSS outriggers, or through-girder beams,
around the east side to provide panoramic The second-floor framing is a standard support the extended eave. SGH developed
views of the river. composite concrete and steel floor system detailed sections of this location, including
The dual slope butterfly-winged roof with 3¼ in. of light weight concrete placed the connection to the structure and the
is an aggressive architectural design for a over 3 in., galvanized, composite metal deck. curtain wall, to assist the steel fabricator.
smaller structure. Coupled with the over- Typical beams are W16s and are spaced at The detailing of the butterfly roof was
hanging eaves that project up to 6 ft from 10 ft on center to support the dead load of key to a cost-efficient, durable system.
the face of building and wrap the corners, it all permanent construction, including hang- The details were made as consistent as
was clear that the bulk of design and detail- ing shells and oars, and live loads of 100 psf possible so that there was repetition. Fur-
ing efforts would be concentrated around at the second floor. ther, the details were coordinated with
the roof structure. Early on, the architect A central column line at this level helps the architectural roof edge conditions so
and engineer collaborated closely to estab- reduce the depth of the structural fram- that the required wood blocking is con-
lish preliminary metal deck roof systems, ing. The “spine,” or valley, of the butterfly tinuously supported. SGH detailed each
framing layouts, spacing, and a hierarchy of roof is eccentric to the central longitudinal overhanging eave condition including the
roof beams and girders with respect to their building axis. By providing the central col- through-girder connection, exterior cor-
exposure inside and outside the building. umn line between the first and second floor, ner connection, and interior corner con-
SGH also worked with Peterson to review the transfer girders for columns supporting nections. Additionally, SGH detailed the
elevation in lieu of providing a slope ratio exterior walls of the structure. Concentri- Owner
(e.g. 1¼:12) to eliminate issues or requests cally braced frames provided the required Tufts University, Boston, Mass.
for information (RFIs) associated with the strength and stiffness as well as mate- Architect
anomaly conditions so often connected rial economy. Additionally, concentrically Peterson Architects
with seemingly complex geometries. In braced frames allowed for smaller HSS
Structural Engineer
the end, there were no RFIs associated columns that could be hidden within the
Simpson Gumphertz and Heger,
with the roof design and detailing. exterior wall construction without pilasters.
Waltham, Mass.
All exposed structural steel was desig- In the glass wall, the HSS tubes fit within
nated as Architecturally Exposed Struc- the curtain wall window system as well. Engineering Software
tural Steel in accordance with AISC Code The structural steel framing system was RAM Structural System
of Standard Practice Section 10. For the analyzed using the RAM Structural System Fabricator/Detailer/Erector
exterior girders, SGH worked directly with for gravity and lateral load analysis and Santini Brothers Iron Works, Medford,
painting system manufacturer Tnemec to design. Hand calculations were used to Mass. (AISC member)
design and specify a three-coat, cold galva- verify computer analyses and for many of General Contractor
nizing and finish paint system to provide the detailing conditions. L/R Construction, Framingham, Mass.
architectural quality to the finish, durabil-
ity to the structure, and accommodate the Matthew H. Johnson is a senior staff engineer
required field welding details. at Simpson Gumpertz and Heger and served as
The lateral system consisted of ordi- project manager. Peter M. Babaian is a senior
nary concentrically braced frames in the engineer and served as project engineer.