Community Spotlights

Conserving Pavilion in the Trees

by Nicole Matchette on February 24, 2017

Pavilion in the Trees is a public amenity commissioned by the Association for Public Art, designed by Martin Puryear and installed under the supervision of Kieran, Timberlake, and Harris in 1993. The pavilion is an open wooden structure built within the grounds of the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. It is composed of a level walkway with handrails, under which the ground drops sharply, and terminates in a gazebo-like structure that is covered by a domed wood lattice canopy. From the pavilion a ravine is visible below, which is part of the Lansdowne Glen Creek watershed. Built-in benches line the interior edges of the pavilion and stainless steel mesh protects one from the open spaces between the non-structural elements of the pavilion “walls.”

Working with the Association for Public Art, Fairmount Park Conservancy’s conservation staff is committed to the preservation of the structure while still maintaining the integrity of Puryear’s vision. Conservators perform annual maintenance and conservation treatment for Pavilion in the Trees, using methods and treatments that are environmentally safe. Maintenance includes the cleaning of all wood surfaces and joints of debris, biological growth and graffiti. The wood is inspected for deterioration, repaired and/or replaced as needed, and new wood receives a clear coating to protect it from ultraviolet rays and exposure to weather. At the termination of annual maintenance, a condition inspection identifies conservation needs that will ensure the longevity of the structure.

Pavilion in the Trees is a ten-minute walk from Shofuso Japanese House and Garden and the Horticulture Center. Situated at treetop level, the pavilion provides a pleasant space to bird watch and relax. Puryear said about the work, “Given that categories are blurred these days I would still say that it’s a public amenity, designed by a sculptor, which tries to invest in public facility with a bit more poetry than it otherwise might have.” Pavilion in the Trees is one of many poetic wonders of Fairmount Park, and we encourage you to visit the site if you haven’t already. For an interactive map of West Fairmount Park click here. To see Pavilion in the Trees it on Google Maps, click here. To order a printed map of 50 Unique Experiences in Fairmount Park visit our online store, or get one when you join the Conservancy as a member.

Pavilion in the Trees, Martin Puryear (1993)