The Summit Welcome Center – Boy Scouts of America
The Summit Welcome Center is the literal and visual gateway into the Summit Bechtel Reserve, a national Scouting center focused on changing young people’s lives through training, education, leadership, and high adventure. The ten-acre site, a former handling area for mine spoils and saw mill operations, is being transformed through design informed by the imperatives of the 7 Petals of the
Living Building Challenge. Functionally, the Welcome Center will collect all visitors to the SBR, numbering 50,000 during the national Scouting Jamboree, as an intermodal node. Experientially, the Welcome Center will serve as a point of orientation and begin the educational experience of appreciating the landscape, utilizing and enjoying its resources, while leaving only footprints.
Buses will collect thousands of visitors from numerous parking areas located on far reaching reclaimed mine benches along Mill Creek, while others may walk in from more closely positioned parking areas. A series of shade structures, constructed from reclaimed timber and metal panels from the old saw mill structures, will provide protection and are axially oriented to focus the many points of entry into the informative Village Center. A central sundial provides for an immediate orientation of being, place, and time, constructed from a rich palette of natural materials found throughout the 10,000-acre SBR. The Village Center, while scaled to facilitate the flow of large numbers of visitors, will be a relaxing, highly permeable space connecting the various buildings and working, educational site elements.
Designed with complete self-sufficiency as a critical goal, buildings and site will operate without the service of offsite municipal utilities, and all measures and systems will be developed with a transparency of function. Site treatment of water is a primary focus of the landscape planning and execution, beginning with the existing collection of previous mine spills at the highwall cut. A constructed treatment wetland with appropriate vegetation will be used to extract heavy metals and minerals allowing for flow of surface water on to less monolithic, native plantings unique to the highlands of the region. Cranberry bogs and rain gardens, as well as the wetland, will be bordered by observation seating, terraces, and elevated walks to encourage engagement and learning.
Beyond the perimeter of the Village to the North, a large promenade and boardwalk provides a dramatic contrast to the calming experience of the Welcome Center and the saddle to the broader profane landscape of the SBR valleys and mountains beyond. A large overlook pavilion provides a view to the treated outflow pond of the Welcome Center runoff with a framed view to the SBR center in the distance, and through presented materials and imagination builds excitement for the scouting, leadership, and adventure experiences to come.
The Village Center is partially defined by the main Welcome Center Building, the Water/Power Building, and two Restroom Buildings. The Welcome Center serves as the ticketing center for all visitors with exterior queuing to a series of service windows to the South. The main entry to the interior opens toward the site entry shade structures, itself defined by the large, sloped canopy porch raised toward the promenade and SBR mountain valley beyond. This sloping roof, appropriate oriented for both solar collection and prominent view from the Village Center, is covered with PV panels for energy collection serving all facilities. The WC interior spaces include a local gallery with access and views to the grand promenade and overlook pavilion as well as retail space for locally sourced products. Materially, the buildings are formed through a simple palette of naturally occurring, locally quarried sandstone, and hemlock and black locust timber from the forests travelled through the Mill Creek procession to the site.
The simple Water/Power Building is similarly detailed, with a funneling slope roof feeding a filtering cistern surrounded by one of the primary educational rain gardens. Raised on a boardwalk plinth, this utilitarian building’s front porch is formed near the main observation seating terrace and its skin on two sides is timber-framed glazed openings. Carrying the theme of investigation and learning, the mechanical and electrical systems are on full display with presentation materials telling the story of water and power transformation from nature, to use, and back.
Mt. Hope, WV