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7/29/97 Conference center master plans are dream project for architect

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Envisioning the Glorieta and Ridgecrest Baptist Conference centers of the future and transforming them to a master plan for the 21st century has been a dream project for Davis Byrd, director of the Baptist Sunday School Board’s church architecture services.
As a teenager in South Carolina, Byrd attended Ridgecrest regularly. He first visited Glorieta about nine years ago and now regularly leads conferences there. He is committed to the spiritual mission of the conference centers.
From an architectural standpoint, Glorieta and Ridgecrest represent distinct styles, opportunities and challenges.
The master plan developed by Byrd and co-workers Steve Newton and Carol Raetz focuses primarily on what Byrd calls the “core campus” of each center, the site of most conferences and activities. At Glorieta in New Mexico, the core campus consists of about 200 of the conference center’s 2,400 acres. The Ridgecrest, N.C., core campus is about 50 acres of the total 2,200. Camp Ridgecrest for Boys and Camp Crestridge for Girls occupy another 75 acres. The master plan also suggests future uses for other conference center land.
The master plan proposes remodeling and renovation of existing facilities and some new buildings — plazas, chapels and youth conference centers at each location; a retreat center and hotel at Glorieta; and a lake and campus center at Ridgecrest that includes a hotel, dining and meeting facilities and a wellness center. Fifteen drawings of new and remodeled facilities have been developed.
The plan was developed in conjunction with the capital campaign, “Renewing the Place of Renewal,” being conducted on behalf of the conference centers.
“It’s been fun to visualize what Glorieta and Ridgecrest can be,” Byrd said. “One of our goals has been to help the conference centers be positioned in property and facilities to minister effectively to people in the future. We want to improve both the functional and aesthetic environments and also make the facilities and outdoor spaces more pleasurable for attendees.”
At Glorieta, Byrd proposes enlarging New Mexico Hall to include dining and meeting rooms and adding an outdoor plaza with benches and landscaping resembling those found in many New Mexico towns. The existing dining hall will become a wellness center.
But Byrd’s favorite design at Glorieta is an area around the lake he describes as a “park-like urban environment” with plaza landscaping linking New Mexico Hall and a new hotel to be constructed near Holcomb Auditorium.
“Sometimes the huge openness at Glorieta can make you value human contact,” Byrd said. “This whole area will become a magnet for people.”
At Ridgecrest, with its “close, contained environment,” Byrd has designed an outdoor plaza linking Pritchell Hall, Spilman Auditorium and the new campus center that backs up to Interstate 40.
“This plaza will have an openness to the sky that’s a counterpoint to the tree-covered environment of the rest of the conference center,” he said.
Chapels to seat about 175 people for small conferences, weddings and other events are proposed for both conference centers. The contemporary designs using glass extensively are identical, but construction materials will reflect the unique locations of each center.
“The identical design is a subtle way of linking the two conference centers,” Byrd said.
The master plans have been designed to provide “exciting and welcoming outdoor spaces,” Byrd said. “We wanted to provide a stimulating and exciting environment with places for reflection and repose.”
New and renovated facilities “will accommodate a more energetic approach to programming. There will be indoor and outdoor spaces where people of imagination can find a wide variety of things to do as part of the spiritual renewal they experience at the conference centers,” Byrd said.

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  • Linda Lawson