HOUSTON—MetroNational, the owner, manager anddeveloper of Houston's Memorial City district, hascompleted a unique concept in a collaborative and sustainableoffice of the future. The Treehouse, a two-story,14,700-square-foot structure located at 963 BunkerHill in Memorial City, is home to all of Memorial City'sdevelopment activities including, master planning, architecture,construction, and interior design.

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The Treehouse combines modern design, innovative technology, andgreen building principles, serving as a collaborative environmentfor stimulating inventive ideas between the developer and itspartners. True to its name, The Treehouse brings outdoor elementsindoors, where creativity flourishes, as MetroNational continues tobuild its best of class mixed-use development.

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The Treehouse serves as a prized office and meeting-space aswell as a showroom for current and future Memorial Cityprojects, demonstrating Memorial City's latest designconcepts for prospective tenants and the community at large.Additionally, the second level of the space includes an interactivewall, showcasing the history of Memorial City and MetroNational,providing guests with insight into the transformation of thethriving area.

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“We take pride in being market leaders and adopting advancedenvironmental standards and practices that demonstrate ourcommitment to corporate social responsibility. The Treehouse is aninspiring environment that ignites imagination and serves as acreative collaboration center for us and our valued partners,” saidGlenn Fuhrman, AIA, vice president of design &construction at MetroNational. "We are proud that the Treehouse isa highlight of our continuing sustainability efforts and thecompany's dedication and emphasis to building for the future.”

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The Treehouse which boasts a geothermal cooling and heatingsystem, daylight harvesting lights that automatically adjust inresponse to changing levels of natural light, and a green roofcomplete with solar panels, rainwater collection, wind turbine anda rooftop garden. In addition, wood used for the flooring on theinterior of the building was reclaimed from the Old CottonConcentration Company warehouses inGalveston, while the exterior wood paneling isMachiche wood, harvested from South America. Inside, the designevokes the outdoors with touches including interior columns wrappedin custom-made tree-like woodwork and conference room tables madefrom tree trunks. The conference rooms, which are called Nests,face a wrap-around balcony that allows for the outer facing windowsto be raised in a similar way to raising a garage door. To ensureaccessible collaboration, The Treehouse extends its reach toMetroNational's headquarters building via a steel and woodenbridge, which evokes the sense of an old-fashioned swinging bridge,encouraging team members to visit and work from one of the openoffices or to enjoy the common spaces inside or outside of thebuilding. The Treehouse is tracking to receive LEEDPlatinum certification, the US Green BuildingCouncil's highest rating.

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As technologically advanced as it is ecologically aware, TheTreehouse offers on-demand wireless connectivity, wireless screensharing, and interactive whiteboards for seamlesscollaboration. Monitors in the lobby continuously displaymedia including weather, traffic, and energy-saving metrics for TheTreehouse itself.

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MetroNational says The Treehouse is indicative of Houston'sforward momentum as one of the top cities to watch in the UnitedStates. According to Forbes magazine, Houston isthriving—it has an art & culture index of 91,a diversity index of 77.1, a median age of 33 and a net migrationin 2011 of 49,820 people. Memorial City's development andforesight parallels that of Houston's own. With access to apopulation of 1.5 million within a 10 mile radius, the mixed-usenature of Memorial City including residential, retail, media,office and hospitality, is prime to become the epicenter of whereHoustonians live, work, shop and play and non-Houstoniansvisit.

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As one of Houston's largest owners and managers of commercialreal estate, MetroNational is committed to being environmentallyconscious. The company carefully benchmarks its sustainabilityinitiatives, raising the bar each year in terms of the results forevery one of its properties in Memorial City, which has three LEEDCertified properties, with the Murphy Buildingcertified LEED Gold in May, and the Nexen Towerand the Cobalt Center certified LEED Silver. Inaddition, Memorial City is home to six office buildings that havereceived Energy Star Awards. One of thedeveloper's newest office buildings, the AirLiquide headquarters, currently under construction, ispre-certified LEED Silver. Partners in the development andconstruction of The Treehouse Memorial City include AcumenDesign for concept and design and Studio REDArchitects, the architect of record. Anslow BryantConstruction is the general contractor for TheTreehouse.

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David Phillips

David Phillips is a Chicago-based freelance writer and consultant with more than 20 years experience in business and community news. He also has extensive reporting experience in the food manufacturing industry for national trade publications.