02 Dec Engineering a New Treehouse Experience at the Ronald McDonald House at Scottish Rite Five Years Ago
Though the treehouse in our Ronald McDonald House near Scottish Rite is closed due to COVID-19 safety protocols, it is still amazing to marvel at the engineering that ensures its safety for others, especially as we approach the fifth anniversary of House reopening. Phoenix Engineering was part of the design team for our three-story treehouse that normally provides children with a safe place to play and interact with others during their stays.
By Zane Pucylowski, President and Principal Engineer at Phoenix Engineering
When I share this project with people, I am always amazed at how the Ronald McDonald House has impacted at least one person they know. Everybody has a story of a relative or friend where RMHC has been there for them. That is what is important.
As engineers, it is cool to be able to do things that are meaningful and especially when there is an impact on children’s lives. We all want to do something that matters. This treehouse project exemplifies what we do. We are thankful for being able to be a part of this project.
Phoenix Engineering worked to ensure the safety of children with the overall design of the treehouse, including the way it is anchored and how the different components are utilized and play a role in the interaction, adventure and safety of it.
For example, the tree trunk is centered around the elevator adding sturdiness to the structure. Using the elevator to build around allowed us to integrate the mechanical systems into the treehouse and provided a way to meet American Disabilities Act requirements so kids in wheelchairs could access the tree and have the same adventures as everyone else.
A large part of the design was creating the three-dimensional aspect of the tree. A steel grid in the House’s roof is used to secure components with steel rods. Adding glass panels to the walkways to the allow kids to see through to other parts of the tree providing interaction with multiple levels so the imagination can flow.
Lastly, while structure at the base of the truck provided extra support, small pockets were added for seating cubbies providing the kids a comfortable spot where they could read or plan their adventure with others surrounded by the tree. Prior to the pandemic, the finished treehouse allowed kids to dream and just have fun, if only for a moment during their treatments.
Zane Pucylowski is the President and Principal Engineer at Phoenix Engineering in Atlanta, Georgia, and helped engineer the treehouse.