The Treehouse Guys, LLC. is the brainchild of partners Chris “Ka-V” Haake (the builder) and James “B’fer” Roth (the designer). Roth was recently awarded with the 2011 Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Barrier-Free America Award for his designs. Building wheelchair accessible treehouses for everyone to enjoy regardless of their physical ability has been a longtime dream of Roth’s, and he was deeply honored for the award.
The Treehouse Guys began operating as Forever Young Treehouses in 2000 and is still going strong 11 years later. Along with a staff of craftsmen, they have built and designed over 30 accessible treehouses in public parks and private camps countrywide, all of which allow individuals using walkers, wheelchairs, or those that have any other disability full access to treehouses with beautiful vistas.
Mark Lichter, AIA, Paralyzed Veterans’ Director of Architecture, highly praised The Treehouse Guys. Lichter felt that the company sent an important message to other architects to think outside the box when designing accessible structures and buildings.
Features of Roth’s universally accessible treehouses include:
- A universally accessible ramp system that allows for a gradual ascent to the treehouse and makes the ride to the top of the treehouse an enjoyable one.
- A structure that allows people of all ages and physical abilities to enjoy the treehouse together. Disabled people, elderly people or people with limited mobility would not be able to enjoy a traditional treehouse along with everyone else. Now they can.
John Connell, the architect behind the first prototype designs for Roth’s accessible treehouses, also received an honorable mention for his work. In 1980, Connell opened the Yestermorrow Design Build School and went on to start two other design organizations. Roth began teaching at Yestermorrow in the mid 1980s and still teaches there. It makes perfect sense that Connell would be a first choice when Forever Young sought out a design and build their first prototypes of accessible treehouses.
Established in 2001, the Barrier-Free America Award honors individuals in the design and architectural communities who strive to improve accessibility for all persons. Previous recipients include Cesar Pelli, who designed the Washington Reagan National Airport; home improvement show host Bob Vila for increasing awareness about the importance of accessible design solutions; Marca Bristo, president and CEO of Access Living, for the organization’s Chicago-based headquarters; architect Antoine Predock for Milwaukee’s Indian Community School; and CBT Architects for making the John Adams Courthouse in Boston universally accessible.
To learn more about accessible treehouses, you can visit The Treehouse Guys website, or watch the building of one in the first video below, or enjoy the interview with the recipients of the Barrier-Free Award in the second video below: