The park’s featured two-story treehouse, designed by Houston architect Richard Cate of MCCM Architects, received the 2017 Texas Nursery & Landscape Association (TNLA) Gold Award for its unique integration with the park landscape.
Courtesy Bridgeland

A unique amenity in a Houston-area master-planned community has been awarded top honors from the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association.

Treehouse Park is located in Bridgeland, an 11,400-acre master planned community northwest of Houston, in Cypress, Texas. Developed by landscape architects LANDology, the park’s two-story treehouse received the association's Gold Award for its unique integration with the park landscape.

The treehouse sits 35 feet above the ground and does not touch the century-old oak tree that laces through it. To visitors, it looks as if the tree grew through the structure. Builders had to account not only for the oak tree’s asymmetrical branch pattern, but also for its future growth.

Gulf Coast Landscaping constructed the tree house from renewable pine stock, excavating the site with air spades rather than shovels, and carefully placing footings so as not to disturb the tree’s root system.

“When we would hit a root placing the footings, we would have to push that footing over and that meant re-designing the treehouse on the fly,” John McMillian of LANDology says. “A lot of work was happening in the field to adjust drawings in order to protect one of the property’s largest trees.”

The treehouse is handicap-accessible and occupies a site that is well known to local birdwatchers. Architect Richard Cate, a bird enthusiast, wanted to offer Bridgeland residents a peaceful escape with views of the nearby Katy Prairie and its wildlife.

“Our goal with Bridgeland is to create a community that co-exists peacefully with the surrounding environment and provides a unique perspective of the area’s ecosystem,” said Health Melton, vice president of Master Planned Communities at the Howard Hughes Corporation, Bridgeland’s developer. “Treehouse Park is an excellent example of that goal being realized.”