Treehouse of Dreams: Amos Cottage’s New Addition

Phil McKinney, vice president, Venture Construction and Forsyth Tech Architecture alumus; Debra Allred, Amos Cottage staff psychologist; M. Todd Shoaf, Forsyth Tech Architecture program coordinator; Rachael Due, Furnitureland South/and Forsyth Tech Interior Design graduate; Daniel Turick, Walter Robbs Architecture and Forsyth Tech Architecture graduate and Mary Dame, Program director of the therapeutic day program at Amos Cottage.

Imagine designing a treehouse that would shape the future for children and bring the community together for a good cause. That’s what Forsyth Tech Architecture students Daniel Turick and Rachael Due began in the summer of 2017. Architecture Program Coordinator Todd Shoaf asked Turick and Due to work on the treehouse after Phil McKinney, Forsyth Tech alumnus and vice president of Venture Construction, approached him about the opportunity. Their treehouse is not only fun to explore it’s also designed to encourage therapeutic play, specifically for children at Amos Cottage who are being treated for behavioral or emotional disorders. Amos Cottage, an affiliate of Wake Forest Baptist Health Brenner Children’s Hospital, offers a day program for children ages three to seven and an outpatient program for students up to age 12. When it came to the design work, there was a learning curve for Turick and Due, but their hard work paid off. “They had to ‘learn while designing’ to understand the therapeutic benefits of play,” Shoaf said. “They had to design the treehouse to meet safety codes and not damage the tree structure, while also applying therapeutic challenges for the students. Their design was phenomenal.” It’s clear that Turick and Due’s treehouse project inspired numerous people, from those directly involved in the project to people who heard about it locally. McKinney dedicated much of his time to the project and was also encouraged by volunteer efforts from locals who wanted to help. “The only thing we contracted was the initial structure of the treehouse,” McKinney said. “Whoever we asked wanted to help. It gave me a whole new perspective and faith in our society and in human kindness.” Debra Allred, Amos Cottage staff psychologist, was equally impressed with locals’ interest. “We couldn’t imagine that this sort of project could be done,” Allred said. “Every step of the way, people in the community said, ‘Let us help you!’ So we let them—and they did.”

a tree house