Cedar Pavilion     Rural Studio    

Title: Cedar Pavilion  
Location: Perry County, Alabama
Date: 2002, built (1,200ft2)
Publication: Proceed and Be Bold: Rural Studio After Samuel Mockbee
Award:  AR Award for Emerging Architecture, Commended
Project Type: Civic / Cultural

In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration under President Roosevelt established a park on the winding Cahaba River in Perry County, a community rural in Alabama. But the park was only open to the community until the 1970s, when the patch of 172 acres of hardwood landscape was closed to visitation. In 2001, Judge Donald Cook, the probate judge of Marion, was determined to have one place of public recreation for the County. He formed a “Perry Lakes” board, comprised of the mayor, county commissioner, local biologist, and director of the adjoining fish hatcheries. He wrote grants for the funding required to reopen the park. And he joined forces with the Rural Studio, Auburn University’s famed design-build program, in which Jennifer Bonner was a student and, later, a faculty member.

The Rural Studio team thoroughly explored the 172-acre hardwoods landscape in order to develop a master plan for the park. They also and designed and constructed a pavilion to mark the reopening of the park and to welcome the community back. Because flooding waters of up to five feet during a high flood season regularly inundate the Cahaba River valley, highly durable cedar was chosen as the principal material for the project. The wood was harvested from a cedar thicket on the site and milled into dimensioned lumber for the construction of the pavilion. Today, the pavilion is used for community gatherings, outdoor classroom for nearby schools, family reunions, and catfish fries.

Project Team: Jennifer Bonner, Mary Beth Maness, Anthony Tindill, Nathan Orrison
Photography: Timothy Hursley