New walkovers offer a new SEASIDE® beach experience by Lori Leath Smith
As a visitor to Seaside’s beach, you know that continuing erosion, gulf breezes, and just plain wear and tear can cause sand to escape at the top of the dunes and wreak havoc with the pathway leading to the beach. So Seaside decided to tackle the issue, but not in the ordinary way. Seaside is known as a forerunner in design, place-making, innovation, creativity and function, and this is no exception.
The brainpower of Seaside founder Robert Davis, Bud & Alley’s owner Dave Rauschkolb and architect Dhiru Thadani have produced two new beach accesses to help heighten your senses and enhance your Seaside beach experience. Both offer ease in getting on and off the beach, spectacular views and overall positive impact on your beach experience.
The eroded pathway at the Coleman Pavilion (Obelisk) is now replaced by an inviting “shadow walkway.” To welcome you to the beach, this stairway to the emerald green Gulf is designed to appear as if it is a shadow of the pavilion itself. The shape and design of the walkway is as if the actual pavilion was laid down sideways and created a shadow, the goal being to build a memorable place that enhances access and enjoyment.
Thadani was inspired by Michelangelo’s design from Capitoline Hill, Rome. Michelangelo was commissioned by the Farnese Pope Paul III who wanted a symbol of the new Rome to impress foreign dignitaries visiting the eternal city. In 1536, Michelangelo drew up plans for the Piazza del Camplidogio and designed a stair-ramp to access his trapezoidal piazza on the hilltop. “Michelangelo’s stair-ramp lends itself well to the Coleman Pavilion. Similar to its precedent the stair-ramp is tapered, narrowing as one descends the hill. It is a combination of a gentle ramp and shallow rounded steps. In the Roman version, the design permitted horse carriages to access the hilltop piazza. The Seaside version will permit wheelchairs, assisted by able-bodied help, to maneuver the grade change.”
“The tapered design creates an optical illusion called forced perspective. Standing at the Coleman Pavilion level, the beach looks further away,” Thadani says. “When you’re standing at beach level looking up, the obelisk looks closer, a reverse perspective. This illusion is similar to the experience in the Rome site.”
And if one beach walkover is exciting, two offer even more to experience.
The new Bud & Alley’s beach walkover located at the Mohney Pavilion behind Bud & Alley’s is a combination of stairs and bleacher-style seating—there are single steps on one side and double steps with wide landings on the other half, so folks taking in the breath-taking view do not obstruct beachgoers. Hand rails line the east side to accompany the normal steps. But, the double steps on the west side include no railing. “The idea,” says Thadani, “is that beachgoers use the stairs to get to beach, and the other side to sit and watch the gorgeous sunsets. Guests can grab a drink at Bud & Alley’s, sit on bleachers and take in the beautiful view. It is intended to be a romantic experience, since the width is just enough for two people to snuggle side by side.”
Another unique feature of the Bud & Alley’s walkover is designed cutouts located on the handrail in various geometric shapes — a homage to the wide variety of picket fence designs that demarcate Seaside’s residential properties. The sun shining through each one casts playful shadows on the deck itself and adds visual enjoyment. At the bottom of the stairway is a large semi-circular landing that welcomes beachgoers and incorporates a full and foot shower offering a place to rinse off.
For both walkovers, Kiln dried, pressure treated wood will allow them to last longer in salty and sandy air and weather.
“I am thrilled to have the new Bud & Alley’s beach walk-over,” says Dave Rauschkolb, Bud & Alley’s owner. “I have always dreamed of having a direct access for beach-going guests to come to Bud & Alley’s. Thadani’s luxurious and beautifully functional design provides for seating steps with panoramic views of the beach, Gulf and sunsets. What more could you ask for? A cocktail, a box seat to the sun and stars and a pathway to great food and the inviting, Gulf waters.”
In the 1980s Seaside reintroduced the tradition of “place-making” into the planning process — the two new walkovers keep that tradition alive.