There’s still time today, if you are in Rhode Island, to see the new pavilions at Lincoln Woods, the park in Lincoln, in the Blackstone River Valley north of Providence. Designed by Brewster Thornton Group Architects of Providence and erected by Ahlborg Construction of Warwick, the three structures add much to the lakeside’s beachly ambiance. And that’s what they’ll be doing next weekend, too, and for many more to come.
The pavilions boast a revivalist Shingle Style with asymmetrical massing, including a gentle giant of a tower, all covered by standing-seam roofs with deep eaves that add to the new structures’ nostalgic beauty, offer shade and protect the façades’ tan walls of wood shakes that sit atop bases of granite stone. The roof overhangs enable a more robust sustainability.
Their predecessor may have approached as near as midcentury modern could to avoiding the machine aesthetic, as if such an aesthetic is appropriate at a beach. Still, since their last renovation in the 1980s they had aged poorly, in part because modernism abhors a roof overhang – if it permits a pitched roof at all. The deep overhangs of the new pavilions, and the granite and shingle materials of their construction, will ensure a longer shelf life.
The earlier work was based on outdated modernist concepts that refuse to concede the utility of traditional styles. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management had mandated “green” pavilions, and various other strategies toward that purpose were incorporated. But the true green architecture is, in fact, traditional architecture. For example, according to the Valley Breeze, one feature included was “a combination of passive ventilation and daylight to minimize the need for cooling and heating.” What that means is windows that open and close, and are large enough to admit the sun’s rays – good for lighting, too!
Instead of allowing time and weather to wreak its havoc on structures whose designers have abandoned the basic tools of architecture, time and weather will now work hand in hand with the new pavilions, aging them gracefully, slowing the pace of their deterioration, and saving taxpayers money on the cost of their maintenance. And such sensible techniques are not applicable merely to buildings where beachgoers can put on their bathing suits.
So Brewster Thornton has returned traditional green to Lincoln Woods. Good work!
I know it’s good because we went to see the pavilions last weekend. But Lincoln Woods doesn’t just have new buildings for me to gawk at, it has nature, too. See?