Klaus Family Tree House
The Klaus Family Tree House in the Children’s Garden at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden reopened to the public on Saturday, April 1, 2023. The Tree House has been closed since October 2022, when construction began on enhancements to the structure. The new features offer more opportunities for adventure play, dramatic views, and connections to surrounding gardens.
A well-known landmark in the Garden, the universally accessible Tree House is a place all can explore together. In 2022, more than 416,000 guests visited the Garden. In addition, more than 6,000 Pre-K through 12 students participated in on-site educational programming.
Additions include activating the interior space with these school groups in mind, a new overlook, and areas beneath the Tree House to invite exploration. Features include layers of experiences, starting from the ground up:
- Adventure Trail: Exciting outdoor play environment with mainly natural materials to encourage hands-on manipulation and discovery. Wood salvaged from the recent Glen Stream project was used for pathway steps and balance beams.
- Forest Floor Room: Calm, contemplative space for structured group activities and individual interaction with the forest floor environment. Adjacent is a Lake Edge Path for greater connection with Sydnor Lake.
- Canopy Room: An active space with open views and a new deck overlooking Sydnor Lake.
- The Cloud Tower: A place of refuge to overlook the lake and Garden; programmed with information on birds & binoculars.
The architect on the project was 3North with construction by Hourigan.
Windows Designed by Students
The Klaus Family Tree House includes windows designed by students in the Digital Media Art & Design program at Glen Allen High School. The students conceptualized and digitally created the three window designs based on guidance from the Garden’s Youth and Family Engagement team and working alongside their D.M.A.D teacher, Erin Mable. Below are their artist statements.
Cecilia Powell: When designing the windows I knew I wanted to play around with how much light each window would let through. I decided to design each window using the times of day; dawn, afternoon, evening, and night.
Liam Mullins: I designed these windows with the intent of them looking like one full piece, like a triptych, but with four panels instead of three. Each panel features the leaf of a local tree species, but the branches intertwine and curve to give a sense of continuity between each panel.
Grace Griffith: My vision for these windows was inspired by floral stained glass designs and their intricate qualities. The variety of flowers that Lewis Ginter exhibits every year is one of my favorite parts about the botanical garden, and I wanted to explore their beauty in my design.
A Space for All
This universally accessible Tree House welcomes all, from our youngest guests in strollers to the caregivers pushing those strollers. The gently sloping ramp allows those in wheelchairs to experience the Tree House. It’s a place the entire community can explore together.
The recent enhancements have taken this treasured spot and made it even more inviting, especially for the thousands of schoolchildren who visit each year. Thank you to the Klaus family for creating this extraordinary place, to the Garden team for bringing it to fruition, and especially to our Garden educators, who use the Tree House in their vital work of teaching our younger generations about the importance of the natural world.