The Scott Visitor Center at the Boy Scout Summit Reserve in the mountains of West Virginia is the point of entry to the 10,000-acre high adventure camp—a veritable Mecca for Scouts. The architecture of the building itself, by Lake|Flato architects, reached the perfect balance between the rugged elegance of old lodges and camp buildings and something more contemporary feeling–expressed in one way by an undulating roofline supported by hand-hewn tree trunks.
The design of the arrival experience and exhibits within required creating spaces with a reverence to the 100-year-history of Scouting with a contemporary flair, showing how the institution is still relevant today and will be for the next 100 years.
The entry foyer is surrounded by a glass façade with the Scout Law and redrawn merit badges etched into it in unexpected and dramatic fashion. Inside this space, visitors see a massive, brightly colored mural illustrating a number of the activities they’ll be able to do at the Summit that immediately sets a tone of “this isn’t Grandpa’s Scouting.” The mural includes the Sustainability Treehouse (another Volume project), a Scout navigating with a compass and leading his troop, the endangered Indiana bat, a zip line, and the resident bear among other features. On the floor in front of the mural, visitors are able to get oriented to the site with the large physical topographic map created from over 75 layers and meant to be as much a piece of sculptural art as a useful tool for understanding the scale of the site. Visitors can also explore a touch screen map that provides greater detail in exploring the property as well as photographs of the various areas. A Scout in the mural holds the touch screen as if it were part of the artwork.
Inside the exhibit space, under a floating tent-like canopy, a variety of ephemera from throughout the history of Scouting is displayed, such as Baden Powell’s walking stick, an early copy of the Boy Scout handbook and a timeline of merit badge sashes and uniforms. Around the perimeter of the room, the 12 Scout Laws manifest as posters re-interpreted to appeal to today’s youth. The area features a pin-a-patch wall where Scouts can leave their local troop patch behind to show they were there, a guess-the-merit-badge game and a photographic timeline of Scouts. Visitors can contribute their own portrait to the timeline to in real time via a photo station.
While there are no hard metrics on the results of the experience, anecdotally it has been well-received by Scouts, their parents, troop leaders and the staff that work there on a daily basis. The goal of showing the organization’s rich and meaningful history while also showing its relevance for today’s youth exceeded expectations.
All knots tied were done properly and fully approved by the Boy Scouts of America.
"This project exemplifies the essence of Boy Scouts in a modern, fun and playful way. The layering of glass graphics at the entrance with the content behind creates a sense of depth similar to the forest environment. The content is a pure joy to see and radiates pride without using words. A great balance of informative and inspirational communication!"
"It's easy to appreciate the playful, fun, open, warm, educational, witty and smart design thinking that went into building the Center. That’s the truth, Scout’s Honor."
Adam Brodsley (principal in charge), Eric Heiman (creative director), Brett Terpeluk (exhibit designer), Bryan Bindloss (designer), Jon Hioki (designer), Erin Kemp (project manager), Rachel Swaby (writer), Lake Flato (architect)