Washington College Hodson Boathouse

"Front Porch" On The Waterfront

The Hodson Boathouse is the College’s “Front Porch” on the waterfront — the first phase of development for the new waterfront campus, a cluster of buildings that serves as an educational and recreational destination along the Chester River for the entire college community. This is a gathering place for students to relax at the riverfront, enjoy recreational activities such as kayaking along the river and nearby creeks, and take part in competitive varsity watersports programs.

A foundation of the project is a deep wraparound porch that provides a shady and welcoming destination to people arriving from land or water. The porch provides rain-sheltered space to relax as well as to gather recreational groups for quick instructional huddles. The corner of the porch closest to the dock is designed with seating-sized steps cascading to the ground where students can wait for friends or teams can gather for a quick meeting before or after practice. College events take place in the multipurpose space with its roll-up glass doors opening to the water, as well as spill out onto the porch and the landscape.

Designed to support the varsity rowing and sailing teams and the student waterfront recreation program, the 9,200-SF boathouse and its 3,675-SF porch includes a main lobby; team classroom; men’s and women’s locker rooms; cardio workout room with rowing machines, spin bikes and plyometric equipment; an indoor rowing tank; and offices for coaches and waterfront staff. The current Truslow Boathouse–a wood bow-string truss warehouse building with a 50-foot clear span–will be repurposed to provide shop space and storage for shells, sails, and other equipment by removing the current rowing tank, offices, and locker rooms.

The Boathouse represents the first step in creating a low-energy waterfront campus by installing a geothermal exchange wellfield that serves the new boathouse as well as future development.

Water is one of the most important elements of the site for the College because of the focus on the Chester River as an area of study; therefore, water usage and protection of the watershed through rain gardens and shoreline mitigation plantings were identified early on as primary concerns for project performance. The project is designed for resiliency in the face of rising sea levels and changes to the watershed by raising the building up on piers.


Chestertown, MD

Building Type



12,875 SF

  • 2019 AIA Chesapeake Bay Honor Award

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