Ping Tom Memorial Park Boat House

Ping Tom Memorial Park / Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

The Ping Tom Memorial Park Boathouse is the first boathouse built on the Chicago River to promote recreational usage of the river. Situated on a formerly abandoned industrial tract, the reclaimed site was transformed by the Chicago Park District into a much needed park and recreation space serving Chicago's Chinatown Community. The park bears the name of Ping Tom, a prominent businessman abd civic leader in the community.

The programmatic requirements for this facility are woven seamlessly together through the following components: (1) A bright red steel storage shed enclosed with decorative steel screens and rolling shutter doors provides natural ventilation drying off the canoes and kayaks.; (2) A Comfort Station / Vending Area housed in a black masonry structure with white glazed brick accents; (3) A white exposed steel canopy with circular skylights  pays homage to Chicago's industrial past lining the river, and serves as both a beacon to the community calling them to the river and a porte-cochere where people can rest  and relax after a day on the water. It is also used by the community as a shelter for picnics and cultural events; and (4) An unobtrusive zigzag path negotiates the change in grade through a seried of bioswales allowing people in wheelchairs and able bodies customers alike to travel down to the dock where they embark upon their journey.

The building's geometry takes it's cue directly from the path of the river. The Comfort Station /  Vending Area runs parallel to the southwest branch while the storage shed mirrors the northerly path the river takes towards downtown Chicago.

The bevy of acitivity observed on any given day from daylight until the day's end is a testament to the project's success in inviting Chicagoans back to the river to rediscover the river's recreational, ecological and aesthetic offerings.

Architect of Record

Johnson & Lee, Ltd.


Chicago Park District

General Contractor

F.H. Paschen, S. N. Nielson


  • Matrix Engineering Corporation
  • Site Design Group, Ltd.
  • Gallway, Ltd.