Installing a Pier Foundation for a Twelve Sided Reciprocal Roof Pavilion

February 27, 2024

We’re delighted to be putting up a twelve sided, reciprocal roof pavilion for the Native Lands Conservancy in Kingston, MA. Ramona Peters, founder of the Native Land Conservancy, visited the eight sided, 24′ diameter Passamaquoddy Pavilion in Maine, which TimberHomes designed and built in 2022. The Passamaquoddy Pavilion is a smaller version of the original twelve sided, 32′ diameter Flying Cloud Pavilion at the Farm & Wilderness Summer Camp, which Ramona then saw on our website. She thought a similar building would make a great gathering place on the community’s land in Kingston, MA.

With installation planned for the spring, it make sense to get the foundation in this fall. After pondering for a while on batter boards and strings for laying out the holes and locating the twelve piers, we realized that it would be easier if we just had a jig like a big old clock, fixed in the middle, that we could use both to know where to dig holes and, equally important, to hold sonotubes in place while backfilling.

So, we built a simple 16′ square jig in the shop with a central timber chunk with centered hole for a 3/4″ steel spike. Pre-cut X bracing maintained its geometry and we pinned the corners to the ground with spikes. The central arm is free to spin on the central spike and has station marks around the perimeter for alignment at the twelve pier locations.

Pat and I (Josh) arrived midday Monday, had the jig set up an hour or so later, and got our first three sonotubes in by the end of the day. Digging was dreamy with mostly sand and the occasional rock but none bigger than a basketball. Sunny skies helped too. Wednesday afternoon we passed inspection, Thursday morning PA Landers showed up with a truck full of concrete and that same afternoon Pat and I were headed home after a fine dinner in White River Junction.

It all could have gone pear shaped with thunderstorms and ledge, but now and then even a blind hog gets an acorn.