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Dynamic Dining Hall

Zinc helps camp’s dining hall meet LEED standards and make happy campers

Camp Dining Hall Jan18 1

Zac Brown is a Grammy Award-winningcountry singer whose experience as a former camp counselor and camper has shown him that camping can transform a child’s life.

He had a dream to provide children of all abilities the opportunity to grow and learn from each other, while experiencing the magic of the outdoors. This desire led to his helping create his passion project called the Fayetteville, Ga.-based Camp Southern Ground. This bucolic, 500-acre campus creates a playful, positive, healing environment that fosters trust and growth in children. It serves typical children, children on the neurological spectrum and the children of gold-star military families. At the camp, they experience something more than just the typical camp experience via programs of purpose involving superior nutrition, nature, music, arts, patriotism and leadership.

The campus emphasizes this uniquely Southern landscape by engaging the wetlands, preserving mature oak trees, and creating spaces for farming, teaching, and play that organically embrace the natural terrain. With its commitment to sustainable, non-toxic materials, Camp Southern Ground extends the idea of a healing garden to a wider healing campus, with improved interaction with nature.

Dining Hall

The first of the camp’s 23 buildings is the Camp Southern Ground Peterson Dining Hall. Its purpose is to not only feed approximately 400 campers and staff, but also be the camp’s primary multipurpose space. Located in the heart of the camp, it offers breathtaking views of the campus’ rolling hills and dense greenery.

The dining hall has already received a 2017 Project Achievement Award from the Construction Management Association of America and a 2017 Honor Award in Build from the American Institute of Architects, Georgia Association. Its design evokes a series of architectural elements from metal utility buildings, to gable and hip roof forms, all the way to front and rear patios; all of which create a contemporary building.

Atlanta-based Perkins + Will was the project’s architect. “The dining hall is the heart of the camp, much like a kitchen is the heart of a home,” says Chris Sciarrone, AIA, LEED AP, architect at Perkins + Will. “Gathering together round food, sharing a table, bonding over a meal: these are fundamental human experiences. Zac told us he wanted an iconic building, unlike any other as a centerpiece for the camp; a building that signals to kids that they are in a unique and special place. It had to transcend everyday experiences, while at the same time, give children a sense of the familiar.”

The construction manager was Atlanta-based Structor Group and the general contractor was Atlanta-based DPR Construction. These two companies formed the project’s joint venture general contracting team. St. Simons Island, Ga.-based Clarke Brothers was its installer.

The project was four years in the making. “One of the first decisions was to determine where to put it,” Sciarrone says. “The dining hall floats near the crest the crest of a hill. The building is the first thing to be seen by camp visitors from a distance. The building is integral with the landscape: simultaneously emerging from it and merging with it.” The dining hall has the shape of a simple rectangle, oriented east-west to maximize views, daylighting and energy performance. It bends gently in plan to focus views out of its south side toward the center of the camp and the organic farm, while providing broad views across the landscape to the north. The narrow plan footprint combined with plentiful glass provides abundant north daylight and precisely shaded south light. A gracious stairway and overhangs provide plentiful, shaded hang-out space for games, resting, socializing and performing before and after meals.

Distinct Features

The building has no exterior wood or wood framing. Its exterior cladding consists of cast-in-place concrete, exposed structural steel members, and a glass-and-aluminum curtainwall. The primary exterior cladding is a zinc shingle system: 56,000 pounds of 0.7-mm, 24-gauge, elZinc Slate finish from elZinc America, Peachtree City, Ga. It runs continuously across the angular roof, down the vertical exterior walls, and wraps under the “hull,” which angles from the elevated dining room floor and makes the building appear to float. At the interior, the ceiling of the main dining room mirrors the folded hip/gable geometry of the roof.

“Custom-fabricated zinc skin continuously wraps the roof, walls and halls of the building’s angular geometry,” Sciarrone says. “[This] provides pattern, texture and a sense of handcraft, which reinforces the ethos of the camp.” Because the project is fully clad in interlocking zinc panels, “This required a custom roof assembly in order to maintain the integrity of the envelope,” says Chris Jelus, project manager, DPR Construction.

Numerous mockups were constructed for all project stakeholders to review including a full-size mockup of one of the main entry points on the building. “This was reviewed after completion by the installer to ensure all expectations were fully met prior to the in-place installation,” says Scott Young, superintendent, DPR Construction. “Also, the interlocking nature of the installation created logistical challenges in order to maintain a flow of the exterior construction. We worked closely with the installer and supplier to ensure that we could cleanly and properly install the material as well as maintain production requirements to meet the overall project schedule.” Peachtree City, Ga.-based MetalTech USA was the project’s fabricator.

“We provided the elZinc material, fabricated the panels and offered quite a bit of architectural support to create a custom system,” says Kelsie Fargo, marketing manager at MetalTech-USA. “What made this project different is the fact that we worked with everyone involved. Camp Southern Ground is a very custom project which required us to be in consistent contact with the architect, general contractor, owner of the camp and all others to ensure these unique design requirements were met.”

Everything on the dining hall is at an angle and there are no square corners. This required MetalTech-USA to create a fully custom system. Even the soffit underneath the building is custom designed to accommodate all the angles. “Another fascinating feature is that our custom panels wrap into the outside windows,” Fargo says. “Our biggest challenge was meeting the low-slope requirements with a flatlock tile. MetalTech-USA had to design an entirely custom zinc roof system and test it. The design of the roof has never been done before, which also promoted Zac Brown’s desire for a completely customized building. To this day, there is no roof system like it.”

Sustainable and Customized

The dining hall was designed to meet LEED standards with sustainable features and architectural innovations to enhance energy efficiency as well as support the mission of Camp Southern Ground in its efforts toward organic farming, nutritional education and natural energy use. Sciarrone says its advanced geothermal heating and cooling system creates a building that uses energy and natural resources in the smartest and most efficient way. “Plentiful glass

provides an abundance of daylight,” he adds. Zac Brown also specifically stated that he wanted the dining hall to outlast his years. For this request, zinc was an excellent material to use due to its long life span, recyclability and sustainability.