A case study in technical design and constructability of floating structures: Northeastern University boathouse ramp and crew dock
The most fascinating part about this small rowing pontoon and gangway built for Northeastern University in Boston, MA, are the challenges associated with the constructability of the design and how they were overcome.
At 100 feet wide by 17 feet long the gangway at Henderson Boathouse is truly one of a kind. To a layman, these dimensions might not seem extreme. But to a marina builder, to build an oversized gangway like the one envisioned for Henderson and have it land on an 8-foot-wide by 120-foot-long floating dock that has a six-inch freeboard is no small feat.
Northeastern’s vision for their new boathouse and rowing dock was perfect on paper. The poster child for functional luxury – elegant in design and calculated in its function.
Over the past 20 years we’ve seen a major advancement in the marina industry from off the shelf dock systems to custom engineered designs that are suited for a specific site and its users. This shift has taken a little longer to trickle down to the residential market but is now gaining momentum. Homeowners are realizing that they don’t have to settle for a one size fits all dock system for their home. They can have a boat dock that caters to the specific needs of their location, their family and their guests.
Following a trend seen among large scale marina projects, homeowners are incorporating decorative concrete and hardwood or composite trim packages on their concrete floating docks to create an upscale and personalized look. These upgrades are gaining attention in the market but are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to customization of private docks.
One of the most unique projects currently under construction is for a homeowner in the Bahamas. For this project Bellingham Marine designed and fabricated a 54’ floating timber dock complete with utilities, boat lift, gazebo platform and gangway. Additional design details included a timber handrail system, decorative rafters and bracing components, and a custom roof structure that doubles as a rain collection system. The rain collection system stores and treats up to 60 gallons of water for use on the dock. The system can be operated by gravity feed or pump for greater pressure.