Cultural, Live/Work/Play

Young Life Wildridge Camp – Gauley Lodge


New Construction


Mt. Nebo, WV


10,220 gsf


Citation Award - AIA West Virginia

Young Life acquired the Wild Ridge property in 2015 to develop a camp complex for teenagers to experience the Gospel through outrageous adventure, hospitality and community. The property consists of 1,100 acres on the Gauley River Gorge, and 20 acres of land are used for the main camp. The master plan of the camp includes a number of buildings that will be built in phases, including a Welcome and Operations Center, Assignment Team Lodge, Activity Center, Dining Hall, Club Room, Gymnasium, and Camper Dorms. The project described in this presentation is the YL Gauley Lodge (Assignment Team House) which is part of the early phase of this campus development.

The specific location of the Lodge was defined by the complex master plan, which is on the northeastern area of the site. Following the natural context of the site, the design concept responds to the topography, views, and solar orientation.


Taken from shared understandings developed during a two-day charette with Young Life leaders, we learned that the tones of the design should reflect the cultural traits of honest simplicity, genuineness, transparency, craftmanship, and intimate community – terms that represent the best of place and people.

In opposition to a more predictable, traditional character, we heard that a more current vocabulary of design can speak to an exciting, relevant identify and a hopeful future for this place and the people it reaches.  This aligns with Young Life’s mission of forward motion and innovation.

A material and texture palette inspired by the vernacular materials associated with the region was selected.  Notions of natural, locally found and sourced materials are allowed to intentionally weather and grow in character with age which will further connect the project with the spirit of place.

The resulting design character of the project arrives as an expression of RUSTIC MINIMALISM – stripped of traditional ornament and genuine in its materiality, developed with a warm mood and timeless character appropriately aligning with the project mission, place, and site – taking on a graceful humility in its development and providing for meaningful connections.

This building is a strong beginning for the Young Life campus described by the architect. One juror coined “Rustic Minimalism” to describe the project. The multiple finish treatments of exterior wood afford the project a range of emotion and compositional complexity while the use of a single species of wood, Hemlock, holds the composition together through its common tactility and grain.

2024 Juror Comments - AIA West Virginia