Approach and Metaphor

The proposal is for an eleventh pavilion to be located at the terminus of the eastern axis of the Central Square colonnade. It consists of two constituent parts: a layered cylindrical drum and a tangential walkway that mediates the grade from dune height down to the beach. The colonnaded pavilion is imbued with multiple missions: a belvedere reached by an internal stair; a sundial; and statuary representing the four elements and four seasons. Thus, the effective metaphor is the Universe.

The belvedere walkway affords a simultaneous view of the horizon line and, opposite, the fabric of the town. The sundial markings are incised into the pavilion’s floor. The sun’s path is measured by a ‘bronze,’ laser- cut statue holding a pincer casting the shadow line of the sun. The statue monitoring the sun’s movement is AQUA or water, one of the four Elements. ARIA or air, IGNIS or fire, and TERRA or earth, mark the other coordinates and all four ELEMENTS are paired with statuary of the Four Seasons: Summer; Winter; Autumn; and Spring.

Architectural 'Follies' and 'Set Pieces'

Colonnade Pavilion

Seaside, Florida 1994

Judith DiMaio

Client: Seaside Development

Consulting architects: Laurie Kerr and Elizabeth Thompson

Design phase: Design Development

Status: pending


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The Four Elements: Earth/Terra; Water/Aqua; Air/Aria; and Fire/Ignis

Studies by Janet Stayton, painter

South elevation, facing towards the Gulf of Mexico

North-South cross-section

Axonometric facing South, towards the Gulf of Mexico

The exterior elevation flattened

Site plan

South-North site section and

East elevation



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Seaside’s beachfront is populated with ten pavilions of diverse designs. All are playful structures with promenade stairs leading over the dunes to the white sand and blue sea of the Gulf of Mexico. The magic of the pavilions, as follies, is that their typology, most often found in picturesque and formal gardens, is transplanted from garden to beachfront. Furthermore, the pavilions are visual markers that mediate with the urban intervention of Seaside.

Aerial photo of Seaside with location of planned Colonnade Pavilion and boardwalk

The interior elevation flattened

South elevation

Apple Maps

Private Residence, Penthouse     

Riverside Drive, New York, New York

Judith DiMaio

Client Directive

Replace the current granite fireplace and hearth with a scheme that harkened to the building’s prewar aesthetic. DiMaio recognized that the directive called for a ‘set piece,’ an insertion into the grand space which was surrounded on two sides by glass and steel doors leading out to the penthouse's surrounding terrace.

Set Pieces’

DiMaio envisions ‘set piece’ architecture as a unique opportunity for very special and customized innovation. Generally, ‘set piece’ projects are highly specific and localized in nature and tend to be, or can be, more lyrical in nature although the ultimate product is utterly serious in intention.      

The Materials

Material selections were sympathetic to, and conjured up the prewar aesthetic: slate and aluminum for the fireplace surround; crafted aluminum customized for black marble insets, for the mantle; and crafted aluminum and steel for the fireplace instruments. The grate for holding the firewood was cast iron. The requisite instruments of shovel, brush and poker, similarly, were crafted in aluminum and steel.

Simultaneity in Design

As with many of DiMaio’s commissions, this project provided her an opportunity to innovate and give dual meaning to an architectural element, in this case the mantle afforded a simultaneous, yet rational solution for: mantle as mantle; and mantle as tool holder, where the notches cut into the elongated overhangs fixed the three fire tools into position to ensure that they play an integral part in the composition.

All metalwork fabricated by Viekko Cove

View into the living space of the fireplace and hearth  

Fireplace and hearth with tools and wood grate forming a composition—a ‘set piece’

The mantle transformed into the tool ‘stand'--tools are tapered and crafted in aluminium with the shovel head and the poker point crafted in steel

Detail of the crafted aluminum mantle with a black marble inset; mantle as tool ‘stand’

View of the mantle-cum-tool stand from the opposite side shown holding the brush

Detail of the tools notched into the mantle as ‘stand’

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This lovely sketch is the very personification of its designer

A 'Set Piece'

A 'Folly'

Return to the Colonnade 'Folly'

Click for 'Set Pieces'