Undergrad to build treehouse

By the end of the semester, Yale students can explore Yale’s extensive forests from their very own treehouse.

On Jan. 11, Griffin Collier ’13 launched a campaign on Kickstarter — an online crowdfunding platform — aimed at raising $5,000 to fund the construction of “The Treehouse at Yale,” a treehouse located in the Yale-Myers Forest in Eastford, Conn., which is 70 miles away from campus. The campaign has since surpassed its goal and raised $5,367 as of Monday night. Collier said he aims for the treehouse — which he hopes will be completed by the end of the semester — to create a place in the Yale-Myers Forest where people can appreciate nature.

“For us, it will be a place where people can go not to experience the research and the science that we are doing, but to appreciate the nature by itself,” said Yale Forest Manager Alex Barrett GRD ’12, who is helping Collier with the project.

Collier, an architecture major, said he initially conceived of the idea to build a treehouse in 2011 during a conversation with friends. After constructing theater sets since middle school, he said he wanted to apply his studies in architecture outside of the classroom by building a treehouse.

“There is not really an outlet in architecture for hands-on construction side by side with design,” Collier said.

After months of working with the Yale Office of Environmental Health & Safety to ensure that the treehouse would be safe for its users, the project was formally approved in fall 2012, Collier said. He said he began the Kickstarter campaign because he was unable to locate sufficient funding within the University. The Kickster campaign, which will conclude on Feb. 2, has 140 donors so far. He said he was surprised by the large number of donors to the Kickstarter campaign who were completely unfamiliar to him.

Collier added that he and his team are pursuing funding sources outside of Kickstarter as well, and he estimates the project will ultimately cost over $7,000.

Collier said he initially planned for the treehouse to be built on a gingko tree in Timothy Dwight College, but an evaluation of the tree revealed that it was in poor health and the project was halted for several months. He added that he was ultimately happy that the treehouse would be removed from campus in the Yale-Myers Forest because it will be less crowded and instead a place “where one could go to be in nature for nature’s sake.”

The treehouse will be entirely open and will consist of an arrangement of square frames located in a sugar maple tree less than one mile northwest of the Yale-Myers base camp, Barrett said. The forest is typically used for research and other academic purposes by students in the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies as well as students from other universities in the area, he said. He added that the primary purpose of the treehouse is to experience the forest outside of an academic setting.

Kris Covey GRD ’16, the director of new initiatives at Yale-Myers Forest, said the treehouse could encourage more students to visit the forest, since it is far from campus. He added that the forest is currently seen as a “remote wilderness.”

“The treehouse serves as a bridge that connects people to what is otherwise an island,” he said.

The University owns roughly 11,000 acres of forest.

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