The best kind of architectural follies satisfy practical needs as well. This pier serves as a boat launch, of course, and as a shaded gathering place along Cross Lake for its owner. But it has a more mystical function, too, which helped shape its poetic design. Cue the music from “2001, A Space Odyssey”: The cantilevered structure extends into the water to perfectly align with the sunrise during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. It’s quite the sight to behold, even though it happens only twice a year.
This project had that special client all architects hope they’ll meet someday—one with an unusual agenda and sophisticated tastes. Architect Robert Cain recalls the origins of their meeting: “He had seen a pier I did for a house in South Carolina and admired the cantilever. His primary home is in Shreveport, just across the lake. We started talking about this project in 2014, but it wasn’t finished until 2019. Shreveport was hit by a number of floods—including a 500-year-flood—and then there was a hurricane.”
Fortunately, Cross Lake maintains a stable water level. So once the client gave the go-ahead, the elaborate process of building simultaneously on land and in water could begin. The land pilings were easy, but the water foundations required temporary coffer dams, pumping out the water, prep work for the footings, and then the cement work.
By comparison, the steel structure was straightforward. The pier functions like a cable bridge—an elegant, sturdy thing, hovering above the water and waiting patiently for its moment in the sun.
Robert M. Cain, FAIA
Pier on Twelve Mile Bayou
Architect: Robert M. Cain, FAIA, principal in charge; Carmen Stan, project architect; Drew Bell, intern, Robert M. Cain, FAIA, Atlanta
Structural Engineer: Fenner Consulting, LLC, Shreveport, Louisiana
Project Size: 490 square feet
Site Size: 2.6 acres
Construction Cost: Withheld
Photography: Jonathan Dean
Foundations: Concrete pilings and footings
Plans and Drawings