Making waves: The Renovation of Penn’s Boathouse

Built in 1875, Penn Rowing’s home on Boathouse Row underwent a substantial renovation to modernize the building while preserving its iconic details.

Built in 1875, Penn Rowing’s home on Boathouse Row has launched countless shells over the program’s distinguished history. That legacy is not lost on today’s student-athletes.

“I remember my first year on the team, being in awe of the historic feeling of the old boathouse,” says Quinn Solberg, co-captain of the men’s lightweight rowing team along with Niels Terwiesch. “With Boathouse Row and being surrounded by the history of Quakers rowing out of Penn’s boathouse, it seemed like we were a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Inside the renovated Penn Boathouse.

Although the original facility was a marker of a proud tradition, the passage of time necessitated a revitalization to meet the demands of a top-tier rowing program. Penn Athletics responded to the need by embarking on a substantial renovation, aimed at modernization while preserving its iconic details.

“The new boathouse illustrates how much commitment exists at Penn for excellence amongst our alumni, our current team, and the University as a whole,” says Wes Ng, head coach for women’s rowing.

Renamed as the Burk-Bergman Boathouse in honor of two legendary coaches, highlights of the renovation include a two-story lobby featuring exhibits and displays from the program’s history; an improved Grand Hall and meeting rooms, creating spaces for community building; and a multipurpose room suited for teaching and training.

“With the original Boathouse built in the late 19th century and multiple additions in subsequent years, it never had a unified layout as it does now,” says Colin Farrell, the Fred W. Leonard Head Coach of Lightweight Rowing.

Success in competitive rowing requires a high level of synchronization, with all team members working in unison during a race. Penn Athletics harnessed those qualities of teamwork and coordination through a fundraising effort that raised $12.6 million from more than 200 donors, including many Penn Rowing alumni.

Read more at Penn Giving.