Pine Mountain, Georgia
Architect: Credo Design Architects, LLC
Owner: Lifeshape Foundation
Contractor: Choate Construction
This new campus of higher education serves a rigorous, nine month, faith-based experience for 18-20 year olds. The gap-year experience is intended to bridge the secondary-postsecondary transition by helping students identify their calling. Learning focused on Christ-centered servant leadership, rigorous examination of Christian intellectual tradition, and defense of beliefs while putting faith into action to create change in the world. Sited in the small town of Pine Mountain, Georgia, the 66-acre campus is surrounded by the natural beauty of the F.D. Roosevelt State Park, providing students with access to numerous recreational activities. A stream bisects the main portion of the property while wetlands and dense pines and hardwoods typical to the region help create place-based identity.
The campus consists of a learning center, residence hall, and operations facility. The core academic building, the Learning Center, is the heart of the experience on campus and functionally provides space for welcoming guests and prospective students, learning, gathering, dining, recreating, and socializing. Its three major zones intentionally reflect three critical student goals: Know, Be, Live. The “Know” reflects the desire to combine engagement and learning and includes a 120-seat active learning classroom incorporating natural light, writable walls and the flexibility to become an event space seating up to 400. Thirty-foot high ceilings sloping to the south create a transition into (4) 24-seat break out rooms that allow the students to collaborate in smaller groups. The “Be” focuses on student transformation beyond the classroom and is reflected in a design element called “the ribbon of learning.” This is an artery of informal and formal gathering spaces, quiet and active learning commons, a wall of resources and activities, a café, and group study rooms. The quiet and active learning commons each flank the classrooms, and each containing a large 8’ x 4’ fireplace and access to a full porch along the north side of the facility. The porch, also accessible from the classroom, provides seating options and, as a symbol of southern hospitality, contributes to sense of place. The “Live” portion of the Learning Center is the area of influence and cultivation of a servant’s heart. This area contains the welcome center, the dining area with a full servery and kitchen, and the administration/faculty-student engagement areas.
Critical architectural elements include an entry canopy with the heavy timber wood trusses guiding guests to the main entry. On axis with the entry, is the view of the open courtyard, the organizing anchor of the building.The glass “ribbon of learning,” with its wood beams radiate toward the north, offering views of the student living-learning (residence) hall and the natural environment beyond. The three zones of the building are anchored by a central courtyard, which allows individuals or groups to step outside and reflect, converse, or read and share scripture while looking up to the open sky. This glassed-in courtyard both allows natural light and views to every space in the building.
The design goal included balancing a soaring and inviting sense of learning with an intimate and natural scale. High bays, overhangs, expansive glass, and colonnades provide inspiration. At the same time, to ensure that the building doesn’t overpower the landscape, use of natural materials and setting the building within the grades help situate it within the wooded environment – at no time does one capture a full elevational view of the building.
Photos: Drone Photography and Impact 360 Marketing Photography