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Gateways to the Beach - Natchez Street Beach Pavilion

Posted on Sep 01, 2017 in Natchez Street Beach Pavilion , Gateways to the Beach , September-October 2017

Natchez Street Beach pavilion is popular for a romantic pic or stroll to the beach. Photos by Bill Sanders

SEASIDE®’s beach pavilions are a special part of the town’s design by Wendy O. Dixon

When it was first conceived, part of Seaside’s original town design was to have accessible beaches. The beach pavilions, dotted along the south side of each of Seaside’s streets, provide a gateway to the beach, as well as a protected area for the dune system. Each pavilion is different from the others, reflecting the unique visions of the award-winning architects who designed them. As a continuing series, The Seaside Times explores each pavilion’s unique features.

Natchez Street Beach Pavilion Architect: Jersey Devil

Many a hopeful groom has proposed to the love of his life while at the apex of the Natchez Street Beach Pavilion in Seaside. And happy couples have exchanged wedding vows there, too.

With its romantic wave-shaped wooden platforms, the pavilion welcomes you to stroll up the narrow escalating steps and pause to take in the gulf view before cascading down the other end to the beach.

The pavilion was designed and built in 1992-1993 by Jersey Devil architecture firm, a group of architects, artists and inventors committed to the interdependence of design and construction. The team is known for their concern for craft and detail, an attention to the expressiveness of the construction materials and a strong environmental consciousness. Steve Badanes is a co-founder of Jersey Devil, and led the pavilion project, along with Jersey Devil architect James Adamson.

Their work has been the subject of three monographs: the Jersey Devil Design/Build Book, Devil’s Workshop; 25 Years of Jersey Devil Architecture; and Design/Build With Jersey Devil: A Handbook for Education and Practice. Badanes has lectured on design/build at more than 100 universities and in a dozen countries.

At the University of Washington, Badanes holds the Howard S. Wright Endowed Chair and directs the Neighborhood Design/Build Studio, which builds small public projects for Seattle area non-profits. He has led design/build studios throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Cuba, Finland, Ghana, India and Mexico. In the summer, Badanes and Adamson teach at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren, Vermont.

Badanes and Adamson went to architecture school with Seaside town planners and architects Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, who suggested to Seaside founder Robert Davis that they’d be a good fit to design the pavilion. They took their cue from the lapping waves of the gulf, and went for all-natural materials for the pavilion. “The inspiration was a series of waves,” Badanes says. The bents, shaped like two waves, were crafted by woodworker Jimmy Dulock, who died in 2016. The only pavilion to use untreated wood, Natchez is made from juniper milled from Apalachicola. “Juniper is an Eastern white cedar, so it’s soft,” Badanes says, “And when you walk on it, you still get that cedar smell.”

Badanes and Adamson worked with Michael Warner, president of Warnerworks in Freeport and general contractor for the project, who says the architects became part of the crew. “They were hands-on carpenters,” he says. “They were a lot of fun to work with. And the final product is gorgeous.” Over the years, beach shifting and a hurricane has forced the team to make repairs and shorten the length of the beachside steps. Plans are in the works to make some minor repairs this year.

“My reasons for building remain essentially the same — the sheer physical joy of it,” Badanes says, “and the belief that the future of creative work lies in the hands of those who can construct their own ideas.”