“Perhaps the seeds of redemption lay not just in perseverance, hard work, and rugged individualism. Perhaps they lay in something more fundamental—the simple notion of everyone pitching in and pulling together.”

– Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat

ASUW Render

Our Values

UW Recreation is embarking on a $13M ($10M construction + $3M endowment) capital campaign to restore the historic ASUW Shell House on the Montlake Cut. The building has had many roles over the last century – built by the Navy at the end of WWI, home to UW Crew and master Racing-shell builder, George Pocock until 1949, and the hub of all student water recreation for decades as the ‘Old Canoe House.’ It is an iconic building for our campus and region – an enduring metaphor for what it means to be from the Northwest, and a physical embodiment of our UW values.

Shell House Night Rendering

By restoring this building, we will bring campus back to water. By returning students to the waterfront they will experience an enhanced sense of place and a better understanding of the unique beauty, history and culture that makes our campus definitively unique in the world. By hosting thematic student programming and courses rooted in the building’s innate themes of innovation, collaboration, leadership, and resilience – we will further inspire their learning and growth. Through interactive timelines and exhibits we will invite the community to join us in celebrating our collective histories and accomplishments. This will be a space that will invite campus and the community to reflect upon our past as we continue to propel forward.

A landmark like none other on campus – it will not only be woven into the fabric of every student’s experience, but serve as UW’s beacon on the water, attracting Seattle tourists for generations to come.

Students in space

What Will It Be?

First, and foremost, a student space full of history and beauty for UW students as well as K-12 students. “A.S.U.W” stands for the Associated Students of the University of Washington – the student government that managed the budget and buildings for the athletics until the 1950’s. Returning this name to the building is both historically accurate, but also a powerful reminder to students and alumni of its important role on campus. The hangar walls will be curated with our collective histories – tribal, military, commerce, sport, and recreation. Kiosks will guide students and visitors through stories, triumphs, and tragedies that connect us all back to the waterfront.


“Imagine the power of restoring a structure whose roots dig deep, both down to the water’s edge and into our shared past, both excavating and exposing our history and connecting the past to our future. Bigger than a university, more expansive than a single sport’s ethos, steeped in history, the completed renovation will serve as a meeting place for all cultures, a locus for the rituals of celebration, core expressions of our shared humanity.”

– Ginny Gilder, 2-time Olympian, Silver medalist, Author, and Seattle Storm Co-owner

Courses and lectures for students and faculty will take place here on set days per week, and on the remaining days it will operate like a cultural center – collecting admission for viewing of exhibits and George Pocock’s workshop upstairs. On site will be a small gift shop, and café. Rentable to the public on set evenings, days or weekends for ceremonies, conferences, and events. It will truly be the “front dock” to the UW campus – greeting students, and welcoming the public to experience our rich and complex waterfront history.

Shell House Evening Banquet     Innovation Lab

How Big Is It?

10,000 square feet, only a few feet from the northeast edge of the Montlake cut. The large cavernous hangar is estimated to seat 350 people. There is nothing like standing inside this impressive hangar or upstairs in George Pocock’s dust-filled loft. Experience the Shell House for yourself through this online photo tour and 3D walkthrough.

How Long Will It Take?

We are estimating 2 years from pre-design, to design-build. Permitting and interpreting the historic elements into the design within guidelines will take the longest. Estimated construction/restoration will be under a year.

Join the 140+ donors so far in helping us reach our $13M goal. Be a part of making history!

“This project is about legacy and destiny. A physical reminder of many historical milestones on our path to success as an institution.”

– Jodi Green, Past UW Foundation Board Chair


Photo Credits: Rendering, SHKS Architects, 2017



We want to acknowledge the lands and waters where the ASUW Shell House rests, stəx̌ʷugʷił (stukh-ug-weelth) ‘Carry a Canoe’ in southern Lushootseed – land of the Duwamish, ‘the people of the inside’, and all the Coast Salish people. It is the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations.