IYRS School of Technology & Trades - Brooks Building

Applicable Learning in a Seaside Setting

The campus of the International Yacht Restoration School is sited within a working waterfront business district in downtown Newport, MA, fronting historic Thames Street. This lively commercial wharf setting is also a particularly fragile coastal area that has seen severe flooding, most recently with Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The existing IYRS campus buildings—durable masonry structures dating from the 18th and 19th centuries—withstood the storm with little visible damage, though interiors and equipment areas did not.

The new Brooks Building for Composites and Systems Programs sits adjacent to these historic buildings on Spring Wharf (a FEMA VE flood zone), set back approximately 75 feet from the water. The design for the Brooks Building embraces the substantial challenges of resiliency required of this setting. The program for the building includes two floors—20,000 SF—of classroom and trade teaching areas for Composites Technology, Marine Systems, and Digital Modeling & Fabrication programs. Much of the program in this new space is technology-based and related to the use of modern materials and components such as carbon fiber, composites, and CAD fabricated assemblies.

Special consideration was given to the resiliency of building systems. The teaching areas are located above an open parking level of 10,000 SF at grade, within the flood elevation. Utility, equipment, and machine rooms are located above the flood elevation, as are elevator components vulnerable to flooding. At grade, columns are encased in concrete to resist wave action and foundations are designed to resist erosion following a storm surge. Walls at grade are limited in area and other enclosures are designed as lightweight screens to partition storage and conceal parking. These enclosures are designed to breakaway in a severe flood event.

In coastal areas the demand for resiliency—living with water—is immediate. With sea levels rising, some coastal areas will become impractical or undesirable for further development. But there are many economically vibrant communities for which development is essential for continued growth. These communities need creative solutions for living with water. The new structure is a model for resiliency in a fragile urban coastal setting and will endure for generations as part of the International Yacht Restoration School waterfront campus.


Newport, RI

Building Type

Teaching Labs/Shops, Makerspace, Classrooms, Offices


30,000 SF

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