Five years of planning, permit applications and personal effort led to the opening of Sequoia High Sierra Camp in July 2006. For Burr Hughes, it was the pinnacle of a lifelong interest in architecture.

Hughes, who owns the camp with his wife, Suzanne, comes from a family of architects. He grew up watching his grandfather and mother design buildings and eventually studied architecture as an undergraduate and in graduate school. Since then, he has spent more than 30 years working in the insurance industry.

"It pays the bills," says Burr, with a smile, "but I've stayed involved with building projects and land development throughout my career."

Burr earned a master's degree in architecture with an emphasis in sustainable design from England's prestigious University of Cambridge. He learned from the field's top academic experts and practitioners, and benefited from the program's intensive research component.

As a result of the masters degree coursework, Burr set out to construct his own eco-friendly camp.

"I've wanted to do this sort of project for a long time, and I saw a demand for the eco-camp concept in California," he says. "Sequoia National Forest has such spectacular scenery, and this was an opportunity to introduce that natural beauty to those who truly respect and appreciate nature."

Burr purchased 40 acres of private land in Giant Sequoia National Monument in 2000, and chose that as the setting for Sequoia High Sierra Camp. Using principles learned in graduate school, he designed structures that left light-as-possible footprints on the environment. Buildings are made with sustainable lumber and natural fibers; natural landscaping minimizes erosion and eliminates the need for irrigation. From low-flow toilets and showers to sustainable menu items, propane lamps to hike-in access, every camp detail was carefully planned.

Burr even based the dining hall design on an Etruscan temple. "I'm a classicist, in terms of my architectural design, and I was inspired to replicate a temple planned by Vitruvius*," he says. "I really wanted this camp to convey something unique, and incorporating his principles of design plays a large role in that accomplishment."

"I've so enjoyed meeting some very interesting people who have stayed at the camp." she says. "They come from all walks of life, of course, but they all share a common love of the outdoors."

Burr is passionate about his role as an environmental steward, and appreciates the opportunity to share that enthusiasm. "We're introducing people to this incredibly beautiful wilderness area, and we're doing it in a way that mitigates impact on the surroundings," he says. "Sequoia High Sierra Camp allows people to be lovers of nature while they also learn to be defenders of nature."

* Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC.

Media Contact: Suzanne Hughes,
(901) 292-2635, suzhughes@hotmail.com