Tree House Competition Lends a Hand to St. Joseph’s Center

Published on Thu, November 10, 2011

An empty plot of land and a little imagination are all the ingredients students at Marywood University's School of Architecture need to create a new Therapy Garden at St. Joseph's Center in Scranton.

The focus of the Therapy Garden will be a tree house, and student submissions will be judged by the staff and president of St. Joseph's Center, along with local architects and Marywood University's School of Architecture faculty, on Friday, November 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., on the campus of Marywood University.

This past summer the staff at St. Joseph's center contacted Marywood University's School of Architecture and asked for assistance with the development of a Therapy Garden. Maria McDonald, program director of interior architecture, says faculty presented the opportunity to students.

"This is a great project for our students, as well as St. Joe's, because it raises awareness," MacDonald said. "Students learn through direct experience, and the community will benefit from these design solutions."

The garden will be a place for the residents to go outside and experience nature with their families and caregivers. It will contain water features, wind chimes and fragrant plantings for a sensory experience. Moreover, wider, accessible sidewalks and benches will be added for residents and caregivers. Judges will choose among nine student submissions, MacDonald says.

"[These designs] will enable more outside social interaction among residents," she explained. "It also gives residents a safe place to enjoy nature."

Construction on the tree house and garden will begin spring 2012.

For more information about Marywood's Tree House Competition, please contact Maria MacDonald at (570) 348-6211 x2688 or