Wednesday, September 6, 2006
And now the fun part - building Wright's boathouse
Work to begin this month
By TOM BUCKHAM
News Staff Reporter
Bill Wippert/Buffalo News
Bill Maggio, left, and Ted Marks stand along the shore of the Black Rock Channel near the West Side Rowing Club, where a new boathouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will be built.
Now for the easy part - actually building Frank Lloyd Wright's boathouse.
A few months behind schedule and $500,000 or so short of its fundraising goal, the nonprofit corporation pushing the revival of Wright's 101-year-old plan for a rowing clubhouse will break ground today on the Black Rock Channel near the West Side Rowing Club.
Serious construction will begin this month, with completion set for next summer.
The $5.4 million facility will serve both as an attraction on Buffalo's "Wright stuff" architectural tourism trail and a functioning boathouse equipped and operated by the rowing club.
Membership in the West Side club, already one of the nation's largest - if not the largest - is expected to rise substantially from the present figure of more than 600, said President William J. Maggio.
Most new members will be students from area schools who have not been exposed to the club's popular rowing programs or else have been unable to sign up because the present clubhouse adjacent to the Wright site is running at capacity.
The club has made a strong commitment to involve Buffalo public high school students, Maggio said. They and others whose schools are not affiliated with the club will be invited to enroll in West Side's high school program, which has 570 members and for years has "had a significant impact on the youth of Western New York," he said.
Designed by Wright for the University of Wisconsin in 1905, the boathouse, will be a 4,500-square-foot pressed-concrete structure with storage bays for racing shells at ground level. A clubhouse adorned with art glass windows will occupy the upper floor.
The groundbreaking follows a series of complicated land deals to secure the site, a five-year fundraising campaign backed by television producer Tom Fontana that drew contributions from many film and TV stars, and the receipt of a $1 million state grant.
"It has been a monumental task to get this far," said Theodore E. Marks, president of the Wright boathouse organization. He is confident the fund drive will reach its goal before the facility opens. Individual West Side Rowing Club members have given generously to the project, Maggio added.
Lehigh Construction Group of Orchard Park will be the general contractor.