Richard Beach Lodge & Chapel, Shelterwood Academy, Jackson County, Missouri


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Description:  The Shelterwood Academy, in eastern Jackson County, Missouri, is a Christian Therapeutic Boarding School for at-risk teens. The word “Shelterwood” describes a forestry technique in which older, stronger trees shelter and protect younger trees on the forest floor until they stand, grow and thrive on their own. In the same way, Shelterwood offers struggling teens a safe, loving place to heal and flourish. 

The Richard Beach Lodge was conceived as a transition house for both boys and girls who need a little more direct supervision and in a smaller setting then the main boys’ and girls’ lodges. The building provides living accommodations for 16 boys and 16 girls in two separate wings separated by a central core, accessible to both support and administration offices. Within each boys’ and girls’ wing are two pods of sleeping, bathing, and living accommodations for 8 students each with a counselor’s office centrally stationed between two pods for direct supervision. Care has been taken to create an open, and therefore visible, environment for visual supervision within each pod, while allowing the students their own private space. Individual areas within each pod accommodate specialized support services such as a quiet room and a therapist’s office. Within the central core area is a large family welcome gathering space which serves as a living room for visiting family members or as an extra meeting room for residents and staff. A residential kitchen is adjacent to the Family Welcome Center for catering as well as providing cooking opportunities for the students. 

Located on a very tight site at the crest of a hill between the main campus and the Academy’s soccer field, its “H-shaped” layout afforded the most compact footprint while limiting direct views from the boys’ and girls’ residential quarters into one another. 

The school is located in a deeply wooded acreage in eastern Jackson County. Thus, the design of the Richard Beach Lodge draws its inspiration from early Park Service and wilderness camp architecture - with simple massing and gabled roof shapes, horizontal lap siding, traditional windows and trim, field stone accents, and an early 1900’s Craftsman feel that hearkens back to the early development of the Missouri State and also the National Park systems.  This has been carried into the interior walls and trim details, while, at the same time, using colors which are calming and comforting and materials that are durable.