Camp Southern Ground, Lodge One

Camp Southern Ground is a lifelong dream of multiplatinum Grammy Award winning performing Zac Brown. As a former camp counselor and camper, he believes that a positive camp experience can transform a child’s life. Dubbed a camp of diversity, Zac’s mission is to bring together children of all abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, races and religions to grow and learn from each other, while experiencing the magic of the outdoors.
Zac, a longtime champion of veterans and their service, seeks to honor those protecting America’s freedoms with retreats and programs throughout the year for active service members, veterans, and their families. Partnering with several other non-profit organizations, Camp Southern Ground offers transition assistance programs for veterans returning to civilian life.
“You hear about camp, [and you think about] a cabin in the woods. What we are doing is way more than that.”
– Founder Zac Brown
We are providing extraordinary experiences for people to recognize and magnify the unique gifts within themselves and others in order to profoundly impact the world. Lodge One continues Camp Southern Ground’s mission to connect people with nature, healthy practices and each other to create a place where “goodness grows.”
The client’s mission is to bring people together with programs that challenge, educate, and inspire. Appreciation and stewardship of our environment is one of the many topics explored. The building allows for abundant light and direct visual connection to nature while mitigating heat gain through sustainable passive and active strategies. Deep overhangs, balconies, and louvers shade expanses of high performance insulated glazing. The western facade is a designed as an abstraction of the forest around it, with its vertical slot windows, brick relief, and gradient patterning that resembles the tree canopy adjacent. The interior is conditioned with a geothermal based high efficiency mechanical system. Each occupant room finished with rapidly renewable bamboo flooring, reclaimed guitar wood ceilings and low VOC finishes.
Lodge One is the latest step in the ongoing growth of non-profit Camp Southern Ground. The camp’s mission is to provide unique camp experiences for children and host transition assistance programs for veterans and military families.
Lodge One is the first of three residence halls and will host 10-week camp sessions in the summer for kids 7-17, and then retreats the other 42 weeks.

Design Challenge

A unique feature of the building is its ability to flex from accommodating 128 campers in 8 “pods” to accommodating 32 guests in 16 hotel rooms. This is achieved through fold-away beds and high-STC collapsible partitions. The client also wanted the building to be designed with a low-maintenance ”tough” exterior with no exposed wood. The exterior palette consists of cast-in-place concrete, iron-spot brick, metal panel, glass and aluminum curtain wall.

Physical Context

The building was carefully sited to minimize impact on the existing tree canopy. In addition, the building is set on the edge of an existing ridge on the site in order to reduce the visual impact of its three-story volume. As described above, the exterior elevations were designed to complement the surrounding forest. Large expanses of glazing and individual balconies at each room give occupants the opportunity to appreciate the natural context. A large semi-protected terrace at the top level of the building provides spectacular views across the site as well as a place for peaceful contemplation. The overall material palette of iron-spot brick, grey metal panel and glass extends the palette previously established for the camp by the Peterson Dining Hall which was completed in 2016.