Pepper Plantation goes deep
AWENDAW — The design of the new Pavilion at Pepper Plantation was important not only because it will be the main gathering place for this new equestrian neighborhood but also because it sets an architectural tone for new houses and outbuildings to be built here.
Luda Sobchuk of SGA Architecture says she wanted the building's style to reflect the neighborhood's equestrian theme as well as traditional Lowcountry style.
The pavilion is about the size of a barn, but Sobchuk notes there are relatively few Lowcountry barns around and she didn't want to borrow too heavily from styles found in Kentucky or other cooler climates.
"I was trying to do what people know here," she said.
And one thing that people know here is the value of a porch.
SGA sited the pavilion well — Its two longest porches face out onto the main public equestrian area in one direction and on a large man-made pond on the opposite side.
Sobchuk also designed a relatively massive chimney, which matches the building proportionately and also serves fireboxes inside and outside. Sobchuk, who immigrated here from the much frostier Ukraine, wonders if the chimney's scale also might have been subconsciously channeled from her family roots.
The outside firebox fronts the building's shortest but deepest porch, possibly the deepest in the Lowcountry.
Pepper Plantation owner and developer Tim Cook says that the porch measures 21 1/2 feet from the wall to the edge.
In recent years, Mount Pleasant's I'On neighborhood has staked an unofficial claim to having the Lowcountry's deepest porch. The Creek Club's porch measures 18 feet, 2 inches deep — 2 inches deeper than the Sea Island Yacht Club in Rockville.
Cook says he was unaware that the pavilion smashed that record but was very aware that it offers more sheltered space outside (about 4,000 square feet under the porches) than in the inside hall (about 3,000 square feet).
As impressive as its porches look, Pepper Pavilion is most dramatic on the inside, where the exposed timber roof truss provides the primary decor.
Harmony Exchange of Boone, N.C., manufactured the timber beams, which then were assembled on site with hammers and wooden pegs — no screws or nails. "It's basically like a Lego set or a Lincoln Log set," Cook, a civil engineer who assisted in the construction, said.
"The look that we're looking for is an open-air cathedral ceiling. I think we captured the feel and the look we were searching for," he said.
Sobchuk, who serves on Pepper Plantation's private architectural review board, says the pavilion is meant to give other architects and property owners an idea of what fits into this neighborhood, which Cook named after the family that owned the tract in the early 20th century.
The pavilion shows the importance of thoughtful siting and good materials. Aside from its timbers of Douglas fir, the pavilion is built mostly from salvaged heart pine from a Tennessee manufacturing building as well as cypress finished only with an invisible sealer. The bricks were handmade in North Carolina.
"Obviously, we don't want every single house to look like a stable," Sobchuk said, but it's OK if they all have a porch.