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Pikes Peak Summit Complex on track for spring opening


Last updated 1/20/2021 at 9:14am | View PDF

Each year more than half a million people travel to the summit of Pikes Peak – by train, car, bicycle or foot. The new Pikes Peak Summit Complex, under construction since 2018, will feature an immersive visitor experience designed to provide unobstructed views of the beauty, richness, and scenery of America's Mountain when it opens this spring.

Despite the challenges of building a new 38,000 square-foot visitor center on top of a 14'er amidst a global pandemic, progress is taking shape on America's Mountain. Multimedia exhibits will tell the story and history of the mountain, welcoming visitors from around the globe and providing an elevated, unmatched experience for taking in the splendor of the purple mountain majesty.

The new Pikes Peak Summit Complex comprises four facilities in one:

• newly designed and constructed visitor center

• mechanical space

• communications facility for Colorado Springs Utilities

• U.S. Army-funded High Altitude Research Laboratory, expected to be ready for occupancy early this year.

In a commitment to responsibly oversee the natural resources of its mountaintop location, the design and build teams at RTA Architects/GWWO Architects and GE Johnson Construction Company are pursuing LEED Silver certification for the new summit complex. The facility aims to be the first Living Building Challenge certified project constructed in Colorado. Meeting these demanding standards for green building means the summit complex will achieve Net Zero Energy, Net Zero Waste and Net Zero Water Consumption.

It's no secret people are getting outdoors more to enjoy the natural environment. So, to proactively respond to increased summit visitors while also meeting environmental certification criteria, crews are using sustainable building materials and constructing elevated walkways around the exterior of the complex to allow for the recovery of the summit's tundra ecosystem. The center will also boast its own wastewater treatment plant, with processed waste to be transported to composting facilities in nearby communities.

The goals are lofty-especially when you're working at an elevation of 14,115 feet.

And that was before the additional challenges of COVID-19. Because construction was considered an essential activity, work hasn't been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic, in spite of the additional safety measures taken to help protect workers and visitors.

Most of the outdoor work on the summit complex is close to completion. Construction progress has been especially evident for the north overlook where the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) boardwalk has been laid and steel framing is in place overhanging the summit's edge, providing a spectacular visitor experience and glorious views. The east boardwalk is close to completion, and the ADA-accessible central boardwalk is complete.

Most of the exterior masonry and finishes are complete. Windows that have been put through rigorous high-wind testing have been installed. The windows were created to withstand hurricane-force wind speeds of 230 miles per hour. The summit complex now has permanent power and heat, while the wastewater treatment plant is also coming along. Internal framing and spray foam insulation are currently going into place while all interior concrete has been placed.

The 1960s era Pikes Peak Summit House is now closed to visitors for demolition. Therefore, there are no facilities available at the summit. The Pikes Peak Highway will remain open to the summit, weather permitting.

By the Numbers as of Dec. 31, 2020:

At 14,115 feet, the Pikes Peak Summit Complex is the highest construction project in the United States.

At 38,000-square-feet, the new complex more than doubles the size of the existing Summit House.

The large glass windows were tested to withstand 230 mph winds.

1,500 pound donut-making machine; so large it has to be brought into the building before final framing.

To save water, the site uses vacuum toilets and recycled water for flushing.

U.S. Army High-Altitude Research Laboratory is anticipated to be complete early this year

Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway anticipated to reopen this spring. Most of the new rail has been placed.


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