City of Chicago Boathouse

In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed building four boathouses as part of the riverfront revitalization plan. Architecture and urban design practice Studio Gang was commissioned to build two of the four boathouses.

To assist in riverfront cleanup and address the environmental requirements, Studio Gang needed to consider a permeable material to deal with the large areas of paving that take on water.

“There’s a big issue in the City of Chicago with runoff flowing into the sewer system causing a watershed problem,” said Paul Ozinga, Executive Vice President of Ozinga's ready mix operation in Chicago.

Ozinga partnered with Studio Gang during the boathouse design phase to incorporate pervious concrete into the project. Ozinga’s Filtercrete™ contains various size voids throughout the concrete that allow water to pass through to the ground below, instead of pooling on the concrete’s surface. It also contains microbes and fungi that break down any pollution on the concrete’s surface as it passes through the specially designed voids.

“We’ve been interested in materiality in general for a long time and concrete is one of the materials that’s really been giving us a lot of design ideas and a lot of ways to interpret buildings,” said Todd Zima, former design principal at Studio Gang.

Ozinga invited Studio Gang to attend live test pours and educated them about the Filtercrete™ properties. Together we studied strength blends and settled on a finished product that was environmentally friendly, durable, and most importantly, mitigated the effects of runoff at the boathouse locations.

“Ozinga is continuously trying to improve, update, and develop new designs,” added Paul Ozinga. “We’re also always looking at new opportunities to incorporate recycled material so you can meet a smaller footprint.”

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