Meet the Architects

An Interview with Tanadoona's New Community & Dining Center Architects

Have you heard? We have a vision for Tanadoona to be a year-round destination where communities of all backgrounds can unplug and discover their sparks through nature. We have big plans for our 103-acre property and recently sat down with Tammy Magney (Magney Architecture) and Darin Duch (LEADinc), the architects behind our current project – Tanadoona’s new Community & Dining Center  – to talk about the building, their inspiration, and the design process. Here’s what they had to say.



Incorporating All Voices

When Tammy, Darin, and the Camp Fire Minnesota team first started thinking about the design of the new Community & Dining Center, they saw the need to include as many voices as possible in the planning process. In addition to interviewing campers and camper parents, they also spoke with counselors, cooks, nurses, maintenance crew members, and the admin team to figure out what elements should be included in the final design.

“When we asked campers what they wanted to see in the building, one camper said they wanted benches because then you never have to exclude anyone. You can put as many people on a bench as you wanted – there’s always room for one more”, said Tammy.

Honoring the Past

The architects also considered the legacy of Tanadoona when designing different parts of the building. The fireplace in the current Dining Hall, for example, will be restored and turned into an outdoor fireplace and the center of a new Tanadoona Terrace outdoor gathering space; the paddles will also remain on the walls of the new Community & Dining Center.

 “We have a long and rich history of connecting kids to the outdoors at Tanadoona and creating memories that stay with them throughout their life” says Marnie Wells, Camp Fire Minnesota’s CEO. “We want our alumni to see themselves in the new design and in the next generations of Tanadoona and Camp Fire youth”.

Bringing the Outdoors In

Darin and Tammy first began working together when they designed schools for the Minnetonka School District. Says Darin, “We worked in schools for years — designing spaces around the idea of experiential learning and learning through play.”

Both bring that background in educational design to Tanadoona’s Community & Dining Center.




Another source of inspiration? The property around the building.

“Even when you’re in the building, we want it to feel like you’re outside. That’s why you can look through the Community & Dining Center and see trees on both sides. You never feel like you’re totally enclosed”, says Tammy.

The desire to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces informed every part of the design process — from the scale of the building and use of natural materials to the inclusion of an herb garden and decks that extend into the wooded landscape.  “The building will be secondary to the property around it. We want the youth to be excited about nature and then be excited about the space they’re in.”

Ultimately though, the experience of the campers remains at the heart of their design process. Says Darin, “At the end, when the building is finally occupied and the kids are running around and you see the smiles — that’s the most gratifying part of the project.”

Today, youth spend 90% of their time indoors and 50+ hours a week on a screen. As the need for outdoor programming continues to grow, the need for a space that serves more youth, year-round, has become critical. In 2016, we served 3,000 children. In 2017, we served 4,000 children. In 2018, we’re on track to serve over 5,000 youth. As Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Executive Director of Children & Nature Network shared, “Places of refuge and learning like Tanadoona are not just nice to have. They are a must have for ensuring that our youth are prepared to thrive in an ever more complex world.”

Hear even more from Tammy and Darin at our upcoming Capital Campaign Open House – meet the architects and hear from Camp Fire leadership and Chanhassen Mayor, Denny Laufenburger.