When Three Rivers Park District purchased the Salvation Army Silver Lake Camp in 2001, an exciting process began of determining the role of Silver Lake in the metropolitan park and open space system plan. Silver Lake Camp, whose Salvation Army operation dates back to 1921, is comprised of 22 building structures on a 120-acre parcel in suburban Ramsey County. The rolling terrain, quality woodlands, water amenities, and open space in an urban environment provide an attractive setting for open space recreation. Renamed Silverwood, the camp is a “special recreational area” that focuses on individual artists, art groups, school groups, and the general public, who create and enjoy art inspired by nature within a natural resource-based environment.
Three Rivers Park District has an established mission of environmental stewardship through “recreation and education in a natural resource-based park system.” As a result, the development of Silverwood harmonizes the site’s natural and cultural resources. Assisted by SRF, the Park District developed a master plan that envisions diverse site and building facilities that will host fine arts, folk arts, spoken art, performed art, and other forms of artistic expression.
SRF led a multidisciplinary team through development planning, a cultural resources assessment, and an evaluation of the buildings. As site planning and schematic design alternatives were prepared for landscape and building components, the team developed a truly unique environment. Bridges, trails, roads, pedestrian amenities, and parking were designed and implemented to complement, and not impact, nature. Landscaping, resource management, and plant restoration were also key to the site’s ultimate success.