Competition Boards: John Vierra

John Viera received 1st place for the 2009 AIAS/Vinyl Institute Design Competition: Bohemian Flats Boathouse.

A total of 151 teams (227 students) competed in this year’s competition. The winning designs were chosen by a jury of six professionals representing both academia and the design professions (a list of the jury members has been added to the competition site). The jury decided to award first, second, three honorable mentions and five merit awards. These top designs are awarded monetary prizes in addition to being displayed at both the AIAS annual meeting, FORUM in Minneapolis (two weeks ago) and the AIA National Convention and Expo in Miami Beach this coming June. The top designs will also be published in the Spring edition of the Crit, a student journal for architecture and design.


John Vierra's Tsunami "best of show"

John Vierra's Tsunami "best of show"

John Vierra's Tsunami "best of show"

John Vierra's Tsunami "best of show"

Bohemian Flats Boathouse

Project Description

The Bohemian Flats, located in an old residential area of Minneapolis, Minnesota has a long history of flooding. According to FEMA, the site has a 1% chance of flooding every year. To respond to this history and promote the longevity of the project, the entire structure rests on a PVC (vinyl) floatation system, allowing the building to move in sequence with the unpredictable nature of the site. The boat house also has the ability to move off site and become an extension elsewhere.

The pedal boats are placed above water onto a rotating wheel, providing an efficiently compact and secure way of managing the boats. The expression of the wheel is then reinforced by embracing the flexible and elastic properties of vinyl through a continuous fold following the profile of the boat wheel. Its minimal expression is sympathetic to the surrounding landscape and community.

The building consists of a dense program containing services on the north-west end of the boat house, which opens toward the south side with a generous and flexible community eating and visiting space. The footprint of the boat house is compact and efficient, minimizing surface area of the envelope. The building is elongated east to west maximizing opportunities for solar heat gain in the winter and capturing the south prevailing winds during the summer.

Most of the visitors come to Bohemian Flats to enjoy the outdoors and scenic views of the Mississippi River. Implementing the “Connections” theme of the AIAS forum, the boat house opens up to the exterior landscape through pivoting vinyl walls-a situation that keeps well with the active lifestyles of many outdoor residents. Privacy, daylight, and ventilation are managed through rotating walls, giving the visitor the ability to control the space. When closed during both the hot-humid and cold days, the translucent vinyl screen controls glare by diffusing light and blocks the sun’s rays in the summer while allowing them enter during the winter. The effect creates a subdued interior glow. At night, the vinyl screens are illuminated with an LED system integrated in the components’ wall; providing a visual landmark for the city. This translucency allows the color of the light to be absorbed in the material, and by altering its color alone, drastically transforms the mood of the space. For example, if the park holds a birthday party, the LED system might reflect the favorite color of the individual, giving them a sense of importance and “connection” with the park. During an event, such as a breast cancer fundraiser, the boat house may illuminate pink to directly respond and connect to the supporters and the event.

Utilizing the many advantages of vinyl products creates a boat house that is highly durable, requires less maintenance, and can withstand extreme weather conditions. By ensuring the boathouse is resistant to flooding using a vinyl floatation system and predominantly vinyl building materials, visitors of the Bohemian Flats Park will enjoy a sustained boat house for many decades to come.

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