Reconstructing the Bernie King Pavilion

March 30, 2006
Publication: Wood Design Focus v 16 n 4

Abstract: A longstanding and excellent client called with a unique problem. The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) was charged with maintaining the Bernie King Pavilion. Built in the late nineteenth century, the structure is an open pavilion located on Nantasket Beach in Hull, Massachusetts, a town that lies on a peninsula that extends northward to form the southeast protection for Boston Harbor. Originally, the pavilion stood between two hotels, providing a shelter against rain for summer picnics and a shady respite from the bright summer sunshine. With summer winds and thunderstorms generally blowing from west to east, the structure's west wall formed a partial enclosure, with varying low and full-height in-fill panels. A low sloping roof rose from the west eave to a ridge line very close to the structure's east edge. There, a steep pitch brought the roof line back down to the eave. The east side of the pavilion was fully open, with a view of the beach and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. As the MDC architect and project manager examined the condition of the structure, he realized that the timbers and their connections had suffered irreparably from the effects of a century of exposure to the New England weather. Repair would be impractical, so the difficult decision was made to raze the existing building and replace it with a historically faithful reproduction. What follows is my account of the journey taken to support this goal. What started as a response to a simple request for a structural evaluation of the existing timber structure became an assignment to design a structure and all of its connections to meet the demands of current building codes and simultaneously to meet the aesthetic objectives of a passionate historical society.