canoe house
20 Jun
Temple University Rowing Center

The East Park Canoe House on the Schuylkill River was built in 1914 as a public boathouse for renting and storing canoes and rowboats for recreational usage.

Many years and numerous renovations later, the building transitioned into a competitive rowing center due to rowing's growing popularity on the Schuylkill River. 

In 1969, Temple’s crew team moved into the Canoe House along with rowers from local high schools and dragon boat clubs. 

As the building aged and the need for repairs increased, the schools and groups using the boathouse were unable to keep up with the increasing maintenance costs of the aging structure. With close to 100 years of flood damage from the river, poor drainage inside the boathouse, and a weakening roof structure, the East Park Canoe House became unsafe for its scullers. As a result, the Department of Licenses & Inspections closed the building in 2008. 

Temple Crew had been the main tenant of the Canoe House for almost 41 years, and now found themselves forced to practice and race out of temporary tents along the Schuylkill River. 

For the next few years, Temple University and the City of Philadelphia were committed to restoring the historic boathouse. However, in 2013, during a tough budgetary year for Temple, they made a difficult decision to cut seven varsity sports from their annual budget. Two of those teams were the men’s and women’s rowing teams. 

The Lenfest Foundation came to Temple Crew’s rescue and generously committed $3 million to match city funds that were committed to the project. The gift revived the plan for the historic rowing center’s renovations and would provide a safe and modern facility while preserving the historic landmark. It also allowed Temple to keep rowing as a varsity sport and put the plans for the historical boathouse back on track. 

The massive renovation project took the interior of the building down to the studs. The improvements to the exterior, the tile roof, and the millwork around the windows, helped preserve the historic details of the boathouse. This restoration would allow Temple crew members to use the facility for a long time. 

Temple’s rowing teams were able to move back into the East Park Canoe House in 2017, and a new racing era began. 

Temple University Rowing Center Storage

Members of the East Park Canoe House project team were honored by the Preservation Alliance when the boathouse project was completed. The project also received the Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia for bringing the boathouse back to its glory. 

Temple University Rowing Center overhead view

Philadelphia Rowing Center 

BoardSafe Docks was selected by Temple University for the design, engineering (structural and foundation), manufacturing, and installation of their new rowing docks. 

The challenge of the project The City of Philadelphia prohibited attaching any rowing docks or gangways to the historic stone wall along the bank of the Schuylkill River. 

The solution BoardSafe engineered a solution where the rowing docks and gangways would attach to two large concrete foundations independent from the wall. Cantilevered decks were designed to be attached to the foundations, and oversized gangways acted as the structural components between the decks and floating docks. Anchoring the rowing docks to a separate foundation behind the historic stone wall protected the wall from being compromised. 

Considerations When Designing and Selecting Floating Docks for Rowing Centers 

Temple Univeristy Rowing Center Storage

The unique engineering solution identified by BoardSafe to protect the historic stone wall along the riverbank made the city happy. The concrete foundation and attached gangway assist in handling the torque from the river current and water level fluctuations. 

Additionally, the design maintains a 6″ freeboard for easy entry into and exit from boats and can support varying weight requirements during large events and regattas. 

More information about freeboard is found here: 

The rowing center project included 

  • one main dock measuring 10 feet by 280 feet.
  • two concrete foundation systems.
  • two cantilevered decks (structural supports for floating dock system).
  • two 24-foot-by-40-foot gangways. 

design services for 

structural engineering for 

  • floating dock system. 
  • foundation systems for cantilevered decks.
  • deck/gangway (designed to hold the entire floating dock system in place).
  • structural steel support system for cantilevered deck. 

manufacturing and installation of 

  • BoardSafe 50 Series low-profile floating docks. 
  • BoardSafe HD Series gangways.
  • cantilevered decks. 
  • rebar foundation cages. 
Temple University Rowing Center Dock

The Temple University Rowing Center is a state-of-the-art facility on the Schuylkill River, characterized as “the best rowing center in Philadelphia” by Temple’s Head Rowing Coach, Brian Perkins. 

The renovated boathouse and rowing docks are located 2.5 miles north of the famed Boathouse Row, and 11 miles south of the Conshohocken Rowing Center. Temple’s boathouse is nationally recognized by Division l coaches and crew teams for its ability to host and launch full regattas off its docks. 

Temple’s rowing program has continued to increase its national rankings since the new facility opened in 2017. Their head coach, Brian Perkins, was recently named the 2022 Dad Vail Coach of the Year and their team won the Varsity Eight Men’s Heavyweight at the 2022 Dad Vail Regatta. 

The experience and understanding Coach Perkins brought to Temple’s Division I rowing program (Brian is a two-time Dad Vail champion rower), along with Temple’s best-in-class rowing docks and training facilities, have created a winning equation. Coach Perkins referred to the docks as “the best rowing docks in Philly” because he can run full regattas off them, and added that their facility, its amenities, and ample parking, are in a very desirable location. All these factors combined have created Temple’s winning equation, and BoardSafe Docks is proud to be a part of it. 

Here’s what else Coach Brian Perkins has to say about his new rowing docks and first-class facility. 

Temple University's Rowing Center in Philadelphia 

Temple University Rowing Center land view

BoardSafe’s long-standing experience as an aluminum floating dock manufacturer and their expertise with creative design solutions has allowed them to become #1 in their industry. 

Investing in a BoardSafe Rowing Dock is an investment in the future—an investment that attracts winning coaches, top recruits, and successful teams. Frankly said, winning teams don’t purchase cheaply-made rowing docks. Side-by-side, there is no comparison with the structural integrity, durability, appearance, and performance of a BoardSafe Rowing Center compared with other rowing docks. 

BoardSafe’s sales team can walk you through the differences in their manufacturing and the components used that may not be outwardly visible but will be understood when explained, making BoardSafe the best-in-class of rowing docks. 

When pricing is the only determining factor in any purchase, customers sacrifice quality, durability, and performance outcomes. Customers often experience a shortened product life as well as increased maintenance and repairs. 

Non-BoardSafe dock winter damage

This does not occur with a BoardSafe Dock. Our docks are engineered with lasting structural integrity. 

The average cook may buy a Whirlpool or Hotpoint; a top chef will buy a SubZero or Wolf. This author drives a Subaru but given the choice, would much rather drive a Mercedes. 

Is average good enough? Not for winning teams, or teams who want to win. 

Temple University Rowing Center Gangway

The Temple Rowing center was designed, manufactured, and installed by BoardSafe, an experienced manufacturer of collegiate rowing centers, aluminum floating docks, aluminum gangways, pedestrian bridges, and other marina access products. 

Our reputation, expertise, and knowledge of the rowing industry, the needs of our clients, and the rowing community, set us apart from the rest and are demonstrated in the products we build and the service we provide. You may view more pictures of the Temple Rowing Center’s project by clicking here: Temple Rowing Center. 

For more information on your rowing center project, visit us at, or call us at 610-899-0286. Our sales and design teams are available to discuss your project wish list and help you design a rowing center that will be the envy of all rowers in your rowing community.