The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing

The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing was once a power plant that supplied energy for Richmond’s trolleys. After the need for trolleys declined, the power plant became obsolete and run down. In 2010, as part of a larger brownfields project, Draper Aden provided structural engineering services for the adaptive reuse of the former power plant into a mixed-use facility. The building is now best known for its restaurant on the third and fourth floors called The Boathouse. This adaptive reuse honors the building’s industrial roots leaving the building’s original exterior exposed underneath a new steel frame.


The following excerpt is from Modern Steel Construction Magazine.


“Structural steel provided the lateral bracing through the use of rods and moment connections to accommodate the code-required loading as well as bracing to prevent uncomfortable movements perceptible to the occupants.


“In keeping with the original industrial use of the building, the new stair and elevator tower features the use of exposed W12×35 wide-flange columns on the street side that have been built up with a vertical open-web joist. Double 6×3½×½ steel angles form the chord attached to the W12 while the opposite chord consists of the same size double angles attached to the back of a C10×30. The diagonal web members are ½-in. steel plate 2 in. wide. The canopy at this entrance features steel members cantilevered from the building façade supported at the free ends by a #3 clevis and 1-in.-diameter rods.


“The interior spaces were renovated using structural steel to reinforce the existing structure as well as provide a new roof structure for the dining room and kitchen. The building roof was designed to accommodate the desire for an exposed structure and large storefront enclosure to provide natural daylighting and dramatic views of the river. Crowning the building is a glass and steel pavilion topped with a butterfly roof angling upward for a clear, multi-dimensional view of the water. Exposed steel includes a custom built-up truss consisting of double 6×3½×½ top and bottom chords with 2-in.-wide, ½-in.-thick steel plate diagonal web members.” Read the full article from the May 2011 issue here.


Learn more about our adaptive reuse expertise here.



Structural Engineering



2010 GRACRE Best Retail or Restaurant Project


Richmond, VA