Oakland, California

Lake Merritt Boathouse Project Scope

Lake Merritt is a large body of in-land saltwater in Oakland, California. Built in 1909, the Lake Merritt Boathouse was used as an emergency pumping station in response to the 1906 earthquake. The building was created in a U shape and has two stories which are each approximately 8,500 square ft. The two wings housed canoes and sailboats that were used for recreational purposes with the midsection designed as a pumping station for firefighters. The foundation piers, girders, beams and slabs are all constructed of cast-in-place, reinforced concrete with the exterior façade consisting of cement plaster over reinforced concrete.

In 2002, voters approved to return this dormant historic boathouse to its former glory and additionally would upgrade the lower levels to improve the boating facilities while the upper levels were converted into a restaurant.


Corroded concrete
construction worker fixing corroded concrete

Special Challenges

The need for this repair was the result of an unforeseen field condition. It was not until the general contractor exposed the substructure of the building that it became known there were serious problems. The city, structural engineer and material engineer acted quickly to investigate the problem, design the repair and expedite the work.

Another unforeseen condition was the need to shore the slab during repairs. As the repair contractor started demolition they inquired about the need to shore. The engineer inspected the conditions and concluded it to be safe; however, shoring was installed as a measure of caution. Not only did this add to the complexity of completing the repairs, but it also made a very tight workspace even tighter. Old wooden piers were also found during excavation which required removal in order to gain access to the work area.

the new boathouse

Adaptive Reuse and Restoration of a Historic Landmark

The owner and engineer were pleased with the outcome of this project. Severe corrosion problems and structural deficiencies were uncovered once excavation began and the substructure was exposed in December 2006. A challenging job was completed in very tight working conditions.

Even though historic restorations are expensive, the Lake Merritt Boathouse was renovated rather than demolished due to the efforts by the voters. With the added restaurant, the Boathouse is now a place to meet, dine and relax. The project is LEED Gold certified. Some of the sustainable features of the building include energy efficient lighting, Lo-VOC products during restoration, new windows and doors etc.

Ten years later the repairs are still holding strong while the residents continue to enjoy the updated boating facilities and restaurant.

the new boathouse

Sika Products Used