This treehouse was designed pro-bono by Charles Cunniffe Architect (CCA) and is located on a wildlife preserve in Aspen, Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley. The edifice was created by CCA, but it was actually a communal effort. CCA contributed a tree home design to the Buddy Organization, a local mentoring program, for its annual fundraising auction. Following the auction, a prominent Aspen entrepreneur acquired the house and donated it to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES).
The Aspen Facility for Environmental Studies is located on Hallam Lake, a 25-acre nature park and environmental learning center (ACES).
The lake and its existing observation platform were included into the City of Aspen. The platform is located on a half-mile nature walk that winds around the property along the Roaring Fork River. The platform was redesigned by Charles Cunniffe Architects (CCA) in partnership with ACES after years of corrosion and degradation. The old four-column framework was reused in the new design and construction.
Hallam Lake is home to a variety of resident birds of prey as well as rich riparian habitats such as forest, meadow, pond, and marsh communities. The purpose of the design was to construct several stations to appreciate the many features of the ecosystem using the existing four pillars. As one approaches the platform from the path, one is surrounded by a stand of Cottonwood trees, including a felled tree that is worth inspecting. It feels as if the structure belongs in its surroundings and invites you in. The exterior is made of marine-grade plywood precisely molded with a C&C router, with polygal for visual relief. Walking into the bottom level allows one to enjoy the river environment while still being shielded from adverse weather.
Ascending the steps to the platform's upper level allows viewers to observe swallows searching for insects, American dippers diving underwater, deer, foxes, bears, ACES resident Golden Eagle, Great Horned Owl, and Red-tailed Hawk; all while designed so that children and adults alike can view without scaring the wildlife away. Vertical features in the Cottonwood bark inspired the color and orientation, and the utilzation of existing materials reflects ACES and CCA's re-use ethic. At this 'outdoor classroom,' ACES naturalists teach ecology lessons, and by placing students in the middle of the ecological environment, they may observe nature's wonders firsthand.
Photographs by Ross Kribbs.
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