CAMP BLUE BAY, 1993 

Girl Scouts of Nassau County

East Hampton, New York

Nagel & Lesser Architects

 

Our project for Camp Blue Bay in East Hampton for the Girl Scouts of Nassau

County, completed in the Fall of 1993, was actually five projects in one: a new 8500 SF

Activity Building, two new 2700 SF Troop Houses (four were planned), renovation of the

5000 SF Anchorage Dining Hall, a new prototype Wash House for the Tent Units, and a

site work program including new and improved roads, parking, entrances and gates, and

utilities infrastructure. 

 

———- ACTIVITY BUILDING ———-

 

The Activity Building includes a large hall, the Great Room, in one wing that is a multi-use

activity space for indoor sports and assemblies of the entire Camp population. This hall is

supported by a kitchen, which like the three Group Rooms in the other wing, has a

classroom-type educational function. The building’s core area includes a coat room for 200

and toilets, and opens up in warm weather with overhead doors to give an airy summer

feeling to this otherwise year-round, heated camping structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With its angled and folded roofs and translucent skylit entry, the Activity Building makes a

claim on its site as an encampment of tents, a collective gathering of outdoor-related

activities at the crest of the open Sports Field. An outdoor stage frames the west end of

the Great Room. The entry steps to the canopied main terrace form seating for outside

gatherings at the head of the Sports Field. And the Group Rooms turn their shaded outdoor

work spaces to the east. Drawing from other seminal Modernist works, this building tries to

include in its inflected form and the geometry of its plan, the pressures of its site, and,

thereby, physically and spiritually anchor itself on the site as both the functional and

symbolic locus of a new Camp Center. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

———- Troop Houses ———-  

 

As the Activity Building is therefore a first step in initiating a new core area for the Camp,

the Troop Houses are the first step towards making a more useable, year-round winterized

facility. Housing a maximum of twenty-four Girl Scouts and six adult leaders each, the

Troop Houses are thematically modeled on the outdoor Tent Units, since they are to provide

the same functions and a similar experience, yet within camping space heated for all

seasons.

 

 

 

Each Troop House bunk area has translucent panel walls and a shaped roof to make it tent like.

With the Bunk Rooms abutting a Common Room and outside deck that together make

the focal space for the Kitchen and Bath facilities, each Troop House is organized in much

the same way a Tent Unit gathers a cooking shelter and a wash house around a common

cleared space at the center of a tent cluster. As each component of the Troop House is

given architectural expression as its own little building – shed, tent or lean-to shelter – the

theme of encampments in Camp Blue Bay’s new structures, albeit expressed in

contemporary pavilions, is continued into the Troop Houses

 

 

———- Wash House ———-  

 

One new Wash House, a prototype for future replacements of the existing Tent Unit

facilities which provides new, more maintainable service systems, also inserts the new

architectural themes into the Tent Units. A shed-roofed spiral diagram, it is another self-sufficient

architectural type that itself draws on other seminal Modernist pavilions. Skylit

with a translucent panel roof – open and of natural wood materials similar to the tent

platforms – it is therefore intended to be both new and part of the existing fabric of the Tent

Unit encampment.

 

 

 

———- Anchorage Dining Hall ———-   

 

The existing Anchorage Dining Hall is enclosed with new glazing, roofed entries;, stair and

ramp access and screened kitchen court to revive its role as a central Camp building and

extend its utility through three seasons. By organizing the decks and surrounding terrace of

the Anchorage to give it the feeling of an Ark-like superstructure, the nautical metaphor for

the Anchorage inherent in its name and its inherited place as the central refuge in the camp

(from the elements) is underscored. And by skylighting it as well with the translucent panel

material, the old central hall is given its own permanent reference to the light canvas

structures that are encamped around it.

 

 

 

———- Camp Blue Bay ———- 

 

The organization of the Activity Building, Troop Houses and Wash House, and the

reorganization of the Anchorage Dining Hall are intended to give meaning to the functional

and ceremonial roles these facilities play in the Girl Scout programs. Underlying our design

of each structure, in the selection of forms, materials and site relationships for both the new

and renewed buildings, is therefore the assumption that to be given this meaning each

structure should have a distinctive diagram and concept, yet all should share in themes

fundamental to the Camp. 

 

But beyond the encampment theme, and the themes of tent and hearth, of color and

material, that thread through our project, the site concept is most fundamental. Governing

all decisions about the structures, the site concept permits two centers or Camp cores to be’

clearly identified while over the years a transition occurs from one to the other and a new

entry becomes recognized as the main approach to the Camp.

 

———- Ring Road ———-

 

The Ring Road at the Activity Building core area is intended to be an armature for future growth,

while the new Visitor’s Entry to shift the existing entry gradually to a staff and service role.

Placed in a complementary manner at each end of the main Camp path we call the Parade

Road, the Activity Building and the Anchorage are reinforced as the dual ceremonial

centers for all Camp activities. Along this main route, the Troop Houses are a new

transitional encampment, half in the linear clearing for the road and half in the woods. Thus

the combined role of the Troop Houses as sheltered campsites for seasoned Troops in the

winter, as well as for intermediate camping facilities for the younger children first learning

Girl Scouting in the outdoors, and as the initial residential buildings halfway between the old

and new Camp cores and providing a new much-wanted change in the possibilities offered

by this Camp, is made evident.

 

And the existing Anchorage Building core, with the road now swung wide around it, is meant

now to be more suited to its transitional role as both Dining Hall and inclement weather

shelter for weekend campers. In the end, it will anchor the way to the beach swimming

area, while for now it will retain its familiar role as a gateway to a much-loved Camp, while

the new buildings, necessarily less familiar, with time will take on their own place in the

ceremony and tradition of the place. 

 

————

Text courtesy of Bruce Nagel

Bruce Nagel + Partners | Architects

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CREDITS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Bruce Nagel, Project Architect

Severud Associates, Structural Engineers

Baldwin & Cornelius, Mechanical Engineers

Office of P. DeBellis, Landscape Architect

Long Island Building Systems, Inc., General Contractor

ERCO Corp., Windows

The Raynor Group, Surveyor & Site Engineer

—————– 

Photographed for Nagel & Lesser, 1993, © Jeff Heatley. 

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