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University boathouse’s curved metal roof marries form to function

Stetson University, located in DeLand, Fla., halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach, might be landlocked, but that hasn’t stopped the school’s rowing ambitions. The school recently christened a new boathouse on the shores of nearby Lake Beresford in an effort to provide a home its rowing teams can be proud of, while also creating a home for its Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience. The two-story facility meets both those goals, in a stylish structure topped by a curved metal roof that takes inspiration from the boats it houses.

“From day one, I had this concept of a small building with a curved roof, so it’s almost like a canoe turned upside-down,” says Preston T. Phillips, principal with his eponymous Bridgehampton, N.Y., firm, Preston T. Phillips Architect. “I wanted the roof to sort of hover. Because everything else is so industrial looking, I wanted the roof to be a counter.”

Named the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center, the 12,800-sq.-ft. building is named after its primary donor, who also happens to be the great-granddaughter of John B. Stetson, the University’s founder. Phillips says he opted for metal for the $7 million facility’s roof for practical as well as aesthetic reasons.

“I’d always thought of a metal roof, because they wanted the building to have longevity,” he says, noting the center’s remote location. “It’s 10 miles from the main campus, so they didn’t want a lot of maintenance.”

Knowing he wanted a standing-seam profile, Phillips had initially considered Petersen’s Snap-Clad panels, according to the company’s central and south Florida rep, Royal Casey. However, Casey, who met Phillips at an AIA presentation, pointed him toward PAC-150 panels in aluminum. In the end, 10,609 sq. ft. of .032-gauge PAC-150 panels were specified for the project, custom-finished to match Stetson’s signature green, along with fascia and soffit panels.

“I advised him that our Snap-Clad panel isn’t able to be curved, and PAC-150 is easier to curve” Casey says, noting that he also aided in the choice of material, as these panels are offered in both steel and aluminum. “Since this is a custom color and they wanted to put aluminum gutters on the building, aluminum was the better option for the panels. When dealing with custom colors, you need to stick with one material, because you need a certain amount of material to do a custom color economically.”

Additionally, Phillips says, he opted for 180-degree, double-lock seaming for added durability – it’s also available in a 90-degree, single-lock profile. “The building is inland about 40 miles, but they do get some serious wind.”

In addition to Casey’s assistance, Phillips also turned to Petersen’s library of online materials to aid his detailing efforts. “Their website is fantastic – every product has a spec sheet and they gave us all the details right off the website,” he says. “I don’t think there was one detail that wasn’t on the website. It was very seamless – one of the best experiences I’ve had.”

Installers with Sanford, Fla.-based Quality Metals also played a big role in the finished project. They received flat, 70-ft.-long panels at the jobsite, which they then had to curve, onsite. “It definitely took their better craftsmen,” Casey says.

The building has quickly become an architectural highlight for the university, even though it’s sited 10 miles from the school’s main campus. “This is a unique building for them, and it’s been met with really high praise – it’s such a symbol of being a 21st-century university.” Phillips says, adding that the new facility also has upped Stetson’s presence in the larger collegiate rowing world. “There are a lot of teams who come to practice during the winter, and this boathouse really augments the status of Stetson University in the rowing community.”

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