Treehouses invite exploration at arboretum :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
One treehouse might be good, but a dozen is better, especially when they are designed by architects and set in a forest of trees, flowers, trails and streams.
That's what Morton Arboretum, a 1,700-acre outdoor museum in west suburban Lisle, will offer this summer as part of its InTREEguing TreeHouse event.
The "grand-scale, interactive" exhibition will kick off Memorial Day weekend and will run through Sept. 26. It offers 12 "whimsical design concepts" that kids and parents can play on and around. The arboretum says the display is the first of its kind in the Midwest.
If that's not enough, on June 19-20 the Father's Day Backyard TreeHouse Celebration at the aboretum will feature outdoor cooking, a model railway exhibit, camping demos, games and more.
All of the treehouses were designed by Chicago area residents. Designs include a pine ark with large animals aboard, a birdhouse, a fungus-inspired design, a pod that kids can climb into, a fortress with spinnable tree cannons and a family tree pavilion that "invites children to examine a diverse assemblage of large, acrylic photos of different families or family members, and explore how their own families may be similar to others, worldwide."
Morton's own team of designers created an acorn cottage to be placed beneath an oak tree, while Frye Gillan Moinaro Architects of Chicago came up with a tentlike enclosure made almost entirely of multicolored translucent fabric to simulate a kaleidoscope.
The contest rules required that treehouses not harm their host trees, so just one design actually will be up in a tree. Oak Park sculptor Margot McMahon and a team of seven others she recruited from her kids' school community designed a "lighthouse treehouse" that rests on stilts. The eight posts replicate real lighthouses found on the western shores of Lake Michigan.
"We definitely wanted [our treehouse] up in the tree because that's what a treehouse is," McMahon says. "That was the great thing we all remembered as kids. You got to go up there and live life a little differently. That thought brought us higher up into the tree." She says it will be 6 feet off the ground-"safe, but definitely interactive."
Morton Arboretum is located at 4100 Illinois 53. For more information or directions, call (630) 968-0074 or visit www.mortonarb.org. Admission is $5 for ages 13-64, $4 for seniors, $2 for children 3-12. The exhibit is free to members and to children under 2. Discounted fees are offered every Wednesday.
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