The Treehouse at Yale – Griffin Collier


The first home you design, build, and live in is most likely that dangerous tree house hanging out behind your parent’s home.  I mean who didn’t dream about a building a sweet tree house as a kid in the summer?  They capture your childhood imagination, scare your mom, and give you epic scares when you fall out of them.  Just something about being a midst the tree line seems to capture our imagination.  Griffin Collier seemed to have never lost that fascination with the tree line, as he has set out this year to build a permanent tree house on Yale’s campus.  After a year and a half of design and a successful crowd source on Kickstarter, Yale might finally have as sweet a tree house as the one in Stepbrothers!  Check it out after the jump!

STUDENT: Griffin Collier 
SCHOOL: Yale School of Architecture
YEAR: 2013


Why build a Tree House at Yale?

“When you back The Treehouse, you are investing in an idea.

The Treehouse would be a prototype for eco-centric design. It promotes a model of architecture in which the natural and the man-made are held to be equal. Careful measures have been taken in the design to avoid damaging the tree. Through its simple, open form, the structure is designed to enable, rather than disrupt, a connection with nature.

The Treehouse would be a symbolic structure. In some ways, a treehouse is a lot like a playground – it embodies that freedom of childhood imagination. It’s not the most serious of structures, but it is certainly meaningful. It would mean something to have a treehouse at Yale; it would say something about the ideas that we as a community value.

The Treehouse would be a functional asset at Yale. The beauty of building at the Yale Myers Forest is that The Treehouse would be out of the way. It would not become an overcrowded site, but remain a quiet retreat for those willing to arrange a visit and make the pilgrimage out to Eastford. The Treehouse would compliment the existing trails and infrastructure at the Yale Myers Base Camp and encourage undergraduate interest in the Forest without becoming disruptive.


What has been done so far?

The process began by considering where at Yale a Treehouse could actually be built. The answer was not encouraging – zoning codes in New Haven would have made things very difficult (and the TD ginkgo was not in great shape anyway). A little over a year ago I got in touch with Kris Covey at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and discovered the possibility of building at the Yale Myers Forest.


The Yale Myers Forest soon proved to be the perfect site: a tranquil, natural environment free of city zoning codes with an enthusiastic community of treehouse-lovers and, of course, plenty of trees. Over the course of the next year, I worked with the managers of the forest, and, together, we selected a site and a tree that was both large enough and healthy enough to support a treehouse. I have secured permission to proceed with the project and am excited to continue working with the School of Forestry as the project moves ahead.

The design of The Tree House was jointly advised by Brent Howard (School of Art), Turner Brooks (School of Architecture), and Kris Covey (School of Forestry). As such, the design process became a bit of a balancing act between the (often opposing) challenges of practicality, aesthetics, and functionality. After a year and a half and nearly a dozen study models, the design was eventually finalized. This past November, I presented my final study model to an internal committee on Forest Projects and it was approved to move forward. At this time, it was also accepted by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, and I have subsequently begun working with a structural engineer.” – Griffin Collier

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