I May Have To Move My Office

Neil Gordon
June 14, 2016
side view of treehouse under construction

Despite having big windows in my office, from my vantage point I am unable to see all the work happening in our soon-to-open nature playscape and treehouse, Discovery Woods. So, a couple times of a day I go for a walk to see what the Treehouse Guys and the landscape guys have done that day.

Construction of Discovery Woods began on a snowy April Fool’s day, when a huge crane helped take our big white oak carefully apart. That’s right: building our treehouse started by the top of a tree is hoisted high in the sky by a huge cranetaking a tree down. It was a tree that needed to come down for health reasons, but it was a decision that was difficult for our staff. It was a wonderful tree; it hosted the eyes-eyebrows-nose-mouth of our Tree Face. But the branches of that tree now have a second life, as they became the foundation of our new treehouse. And, the trunk of that tree was milled right on site to become the treehouse decking and walls.

Work on the treehouse has progressed apace: the walls were framed and built, the roof beams and then the roof itself was hoisted into place.  You can see the outlines of the big rolling doors that will be open much of the time, welcoming kids to the adventure that awaits inside. And the treehouse walkway will create an accessible path for everyone to reach the treehouse, no matter mobility issues. It is pretty cool to embark on what is a level walk and suddenly realize you are 15 feet in the air as the land falls away beneath you.  Fifteen feet feels much higher than I imagined!

Beneath the tree house the other adventures of Discovery Woods are taking shape.  Slide Hill is up and when you are on top, you can see way out into the Great Hill Conservation land next door. It really feels like you’ve climbed a big hill. I can’t wait to try the Family Slide—delivered and soon to be installed—that will let you zip down together…no doubt to then climb right back up again.

Beneath the hill, other cool new places are taking shape. The Rain Garden, the Gravel Pit, the Cargo Net Climb, the Nest Swing—all are starting to appear on site. Our favorite part: the inclusive design and fully-accessible components will make this incredible nature playscape work for all kids.

Discovery Woods is the largest investment The Discovery Museums have ever made.  It is a lot of fun and also very rewarding and exciting to see the pieces come together. It is incredible to imagine that soon, kids and their families will be exploring the outdoors in what now looks like a construction zone.

And as for moving my office?  Well, it seems Discovery Woods is already doing for me what we hope it will do for so many.  Those frequent walks are getting me back outdoors.

photo of CEO Neil Gordon standing with treehouse in background
Neil Gordon

I joined The Discovery Museums in September 2009, and feel lucky to serve this terrific community of kids, families and supporters. After serving as Budget Director for the City of Boston, my museum career began in 1995 at Boston Children’s Museum, where I served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. My priorities for The Discovery Museums include supporting kids and families to play and learn together; expanding outdoor learning; increasing access for underserved populations; and building upon our 33-year history to create a museum for the next 30 years.

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We firmly believe in the fundamental value of play for children—and families—to support emotional, developmental, and social health and well-being. This blog will explore why play matters, and touch on all aspects of our work to encourage play and support early STEM learning.