Forty minutes south of downtown, beyond the front gates of Zac Brown’s Camp Southern Ground, green meadows swell up to a distinctly modern structure that somehow jibes with its bucolic surroundings. A passion project for the Grammy-winning musician, the 450-acre campground for kids and military vets was master-planned by Perkins + Will, a global firm based in Atlanta. As the first of 23 planned buildings, the Peterson Dining Hall already serves as the camp’s heart.
It’s a noteworthy addition to Perkins + Will’s metro Atlanta canon, which includes lead designs for the BeltLine, the LEED Gold-certified Charles R. Drew Charter School, and the reinvention of their Midtown offices, considered the “most sustainable building in the northern hemisphere.” In Reynoldstown the firm is also directing the adaptive reuse of the Atlanta Dairies project by Paces Properties.
Ben Ferguson, the camp’s director of construction (and Brown’s brother-in-law), says the firm’s boundary-expanding design made them a “no-brainer” pick, and the dining hall has honored Brown’s mandate of “making kids’ heads explode” upon arrival. “But it’s mostly adults who get blown away,” says Ferguson. “Shoot, one board member started crying when he walked in.”
This article originally appeared in our November 2017 issue.