River Mountain Retreat

Everett, PA

Reception hall, education center, recreation barn
Dining hall, kitchen, gathering commons
Sleeping cabins with bonfire area adjacent to Tussey Mountain Spring
Trails and site improvements
River Mountain Retreat
Programming, Fundraising Materials, Site Analysis, Sustainable Design, Interior Design, Full Design Services, Building Information Modeling

River Mountain Retreat’s purpose is to empower young people with immersive experiences in the natural world, to strengthen skills weakened by excessive screen time. With emphasis on improving focus and attention, communication and personal relationships, and wellness and health, the Retreat’s nature-based curriculum will teach guests how to create, balance, and manage a healthier relationship with technology.


Views of a majestic mountain abound throughout the historic, 125-acre farmstead, which was transformed into the new wellness Retreat through adaptive reuse of historic farm buildings and sensitive new construction. Nature governs guests’ daily routine, a departure from typical dawn till night screen time, with the infamous “blue light” that interferes with natural sleep rhythms.

Separated from the restored farmstead by fields and wetlands, the new sleeping cabins are sited at the forest’s edge, between Tussey Spring and Sweet Root Creek, where sounds of running water and forest creatures contribute to a restorative environment. Arranged in pairs, each set of cabins shares a common outdoor gathering deck space between them. The angled site orientation of each pair of cabins enables the Retreat to easily accommodate both small and large group gatherings, depending on the programmatic requirements of the guests’ curricula, specifically tailored to age groups, interests, etc.

The predominantly glass eastern façade of the new cabins illuminates the sleeping bunks with the morning rays in abundance, waking guests with views toward the bank of Sweet Root Creek and reestablishing a natural circadian rhythm. Large, operable windows ensure plenty of fresh air, and natural wood and metal clad the cabins’ exterior.