Building The Lucerne Pergola

the Lucerne pergola (2)Phase 1:  Design, engineer, and build  Once Buck had my sketch for the pergola, there were a lot of drawings that would need to be done.  The CAD drawings would indicate the angles, the rolling radiuses, and the exact sizes of every piece of steel that would be necessary to fabricate the piece. Buck constructed the pergola full size – down to the last bolt hole – in the computer.

the Lucerne pergola (3)

the Lucerne pergola (4)

the Lucerne pergola (5)

the Lucerne pergola (6)

the Lucerne pergola (10)Buck’s crew put the base of the pergola together up side down, to be sure every piece fit together properly. Owen was the lead fabricator on the project, with help from Adam, Riley, Sal, LaBelle, and Buck.

the Lucerne pergola (8)Lattice panels were designed and fabricated as an open wall for the back of the pergola, and feature a steel ball detail.

the Lucerne pergola (9) Each of nine panels were hand fabricated and fitted to each opening.

setting the structure (7)The installation: setting the structure.  The bottom of the pergola was bolted in the rear to a seat wall of brick, through the bull nosed blue stone coping.

setting the structure (5)

setting the structure (8)

setting the structure (6)The top of the brick wall is seat height, and width.

setting the structure (4)

setting the structure (3)

setting the structure 2The front post were anchored to 42″ deep concrete footings.

setting the roof beam (7)Setting the roof beams was the most difficult part of the job.  Each half-beam was 12 feet in diameter, and was incredibly heavy.  A support bar made especially to hold these beams, and a loader was necessary to get these pieces to the proper height for bolting on.

setting the roof beam (6)

setting the roof beam (4)

setting the roof beam (3)

setting the roof beam (2)

setting the roof beam (1)

setting the structure 2

the roof (2)Setting the roof.  These pictures are not so swell, with all that sky behind the action.  The top of the finial is 17 feet off the ground.

the roof (3)

the roof (1)

the roof (4)

hanging the lattice panels (3)hanging the lattice panels

hanging the lattice panels (1)

hanging the lattice panels (4)

the finish (3)

Branch Studio pergolaThe finish

Branch Studio pergola (2)

Branch Studio pergola (3)

Branch Studio pergola (1)

the finish (1)5 of the 6 Branch Studio dudes

the finish (2)The two day installation consumed 110 hours of work on the part of all 6 members of Branch. My clients had the great idea to do a time lapse video of the installation-what a treat this is to watch! If you are interested in watching, click on the link below.

the Lucerne Pergola installation


A Roof Over One’s Head

Pergola, arbor, gazebo,pavilion, grotto, umbrella, gloriette-there are plenty of  words that allude to a roof over one’s head in the garden. This steel pergola, at 9′ by 24′, is large enough to comfortably host a dinner party, or provide a spot to sit and view the gardens yet to come.   This pergola also provides a structure on which to grow vining plants. In this case I plan for 3 species of clematis.  The vigorous growing sweet autumn clematis will provide a living roof; the species clematis vitacella violacea, and clematis Jackmani Superba will bloom profusely with small flowers, up over the roofline.
gloriette3This pavilion is very much about enclosure.  It would be fine with vines, and fine without.  The client who purchased this steel “building” had us construct cedar and steel benches for the sides; it became a place to meet in her garden.


 An arbor celebrates the transition from one garden room to another.  An architect friend once explained to me that transition spaces in buildings are important.  Thery provide a space to exit, and a space to anticipate what is to come.  Wood arbors have a very attractive look, but there is maintenance involved.  If I plant a wood arbor, I try to plant something amenable to being cut back, or taken down, when repainting becomes necessary.  Some clients choose to let a paint finish wear; this can be a charming look.


 This large and sturdy arbor is situated at the juncture of an L-shape in the landscape.  It provides a center of interest for two entirely different gardens.  The brick piers match the brick of the house.  As the client intended for the arbor to have wisteria, or grapes, we made it overly tall.  A planted roof  lowers the ceiling; plan to be able to walk through easily even after the roof vines grow in.


 An arbor can also be a sculpture in its own right.  This faux bois arbor is concrete and mortar over steel, hand carved to look like birch.  Contructed in four pieces for ease of transport,  it bolted together with stainless steel bolts once it was delivered.  This arbor took  over three months of one person’s work time  to fabricate.  It is a spectacular structure.  I designed the structure specifically for  the center of an oval lawn fringed in a  planting of Himalayan white-barked birch and Sum and Substance hosta. 


 This contemporary version of a French house had oak details that are repeated in this steel structure.  A berceau, or trellis- covered walkway, was a common feature in mid-eighteenth century French gardens. 


 This garden shelter with integral bench I designed specifically to provide screening from a neighboring garage.  As the space was too narrow for plants, this arbor distracts the eye from a less than desirable view. 


This classically inspired arbor and bench is home to several wisteria vines.  The vines are pruned regularly to keep them in bounds; all the growth is kept on the roof, providing a cool shady roof under which to sit between gardens.  A roof over one’s head in the garden can take many forms and be made of varying materials.  They can serve different purposes, in an ornamental way.