Northwestern University Sailing Center

Evanston, Illinois / United States of America

The Sailing Center is Northwestern's most direct connection between the campus and its spectacular location on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Right on the beach at the water's edge, the Sailing Center is home to the University's intercollegiate sailing team and its student sailing classes. The LEED Gold Certified building is composed of staggered blocks (the sailing office and a “garage” for boats and gear in front; the learning center and locker rooms behind) linked by a light-filled glass box containing the entry area. The blocks were kept long and low to fit into Lake Michigan's immense horizon and to allow future buildings behind to enjoy shoreline views. Their rugged concrete walls are embossed by the rough boards that made them, leaving horizontal ridges that create gentle shadow play and hint at clapboards weathering in the sun. The sailing program's competitive athletic core is blazoned by translucent plastic panels of deep purple, NU's official color, that fold upward or slide sideways to open directly to the beach launch area with its Astroturf carpet for drying sails---revealing a view of the Chicago skyline 12 miles to the south during the sailing season and then buttoning up the building, piled high with stored boats and gear, for the winter.

Architect of Record

Woodhouse Tinucci Architects


Northwestern University

General Contractor

Power Construction


  • WMA Consulting Engineers
  • Enspect Engineering
  • V3