Mithun designed the tree house so that it would tread lightly on the land. The firm originally considered prefabricating the entire structure offsite but, in the research process, concluded that craning large modules into place would potentially harm the canopy. A combination of a bolted-together prefab structure and site-built wood housing yielded the least intrusive construction option.
The Summit Bechtel Reserve is located in West Virginia's coal mining country. The architects looked to the local structures—bridges, mining apparatus, and other industrial buildings—to inform the tree house's design. A 166-ton Cor-Ten steel megastructure supports the 125-foot-tall building. The use of regionally appropriate materials, like steel and black locust wood, was important to the architects.