After many years of using a converted farm shed as its “Tennis Hut,” the membership of the Conanicut Yacht Club (CYC) decided to explore the possibility of upgrading its facilities. Under the leadership of the Commodore and a few key members, a group of architecture firms were approached about participating in a paid competition to give the “Hut Committee” concept ideas of what a new facility might look like and roughly cost.

The A4 Architecture design proposal was selected as the solution that seemed to best fit the club’s long term needs. Ross Cann, founding and managing principal at A4 Architecture, felt very at home working on the project. As a lifelong tennis and paddle tennis player, and a member of numerous racquet clubs himself, he understood the needs and desires of the players and club members extremely well.

The CYC is a venerable but understated organization, and so A4 Architecture designed a building that was traditional in character and closely matched the vernacular character of the long-established, residential neighborhood in which the 8 tennis court, 2 paddle court facility was located. The goal was to have the structure look like it had been there for decades.

A4 Architecture developed the final design, working closely with a 14 member committee and making multiple presentations to the club membership over a two year period to gauge their needs and desires for the facility. The building was divided into 4 areas: a comfortable member area with a fireplace and great views to the tennis and paddle courts; a pro shop and office area; new bathroom and shower facilities; and a basement area for mechanical and storage. The building was surrounded by a large porch for outdoor seating and bleachers facing the tennis courts for watching tournaments and club championships.

Since the facility opened in 2018, the members have embraced the facility enthusiastically and play on both the tennis courts and paddle courts has increased significantly. Just as importantly, gatherings in the club area have served to help bring the membership of the club together in fun and fellowship. Where change was once a scary prospect for many members of the CYC, that change has been proven for the betterment of the members of the organization, all thanks to a carefully considered design by A4 Architecture.

In 2020, the Conanicut Yacht Club Racquets Facility was named Hut of the Month by Platform Tennis Magazine. Read the article here.


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Ross Cann is an author, historian, teacher and founding architect at A4 Architecture in Newport, Rhode Island. He has been involved in many adaptive reuse projects in Rhode Island and elsewhere over his thirty-year career.