Epic Metals

A   Q   U   A  P   L   A   N   E

Epic Metals Competition:


2nd Place Prize Winner

Year 3, Semester 1

Coordinator: Steve Lee

Studio Instructor:  Stefani Danes

Partner: William Aldrich


The following project was a weekend competition sponsored by Pittsburgh's own Epic Metals Company. The proposed client was the Pittsburgh Polar Bear Club, an organization that makes a plunge every year into the frigid Allegheny, typically for a nonprofit fundraiser or social cause. The projects were judged by members of the Club, Epic Metals' head engineer as well as its owner, and a group of faculty from Carnegie Mellon's Architecture Department.

The Aquaplane project is a floating structure that allows for programmatic flexibility through its use of hanging, easily removable walls. This boat-like changing facility not only saves precious sidewalk space for the Polar Bear Club’s rising membership rate but also allows for a safer solution to clothing storage as well as escaping from the frigid water and rough concrete riverside. Rather than participants leaving their clothes on the ground or asking others to hold them, the structure provides a cubby-like storage system that is accessible from both sides. In addition, to counteract the the typical traffic issue of members jumping into the frigid waters and immediately requiring assistance to escape (and typical still being harmed from the unforgiving concrete wall), the structure allows for everyone to take the plunge and swim to the changing room. This unique splitting of in-going and out-going traffic allows for a continuous flow of movement and minimal waiting time. There is also a potential for small groups to jump directly off the structure itself without causing a traffic jam. 

Were this project to be created on a much larger scale, the units are designed to hook to one another and provide a space for social gatherings, promotional fundraisers, as well as a sleek new look for the Pittsburgh Polar Bear Club.