Pikes Peak Summit Complex Project

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Experience new heights 

Pikes Peak - America's Mountain is one of the most visited mountains in the world and a top tourist attraction for the State of Colorado. Annually, more than 750,000 people reach the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway, the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, or, for the more adventurous, the Barr or Crags hiking trails. Pikes Peak is an American icon, and the summit is a National Historic Landmark (NHL) that holds a special place in America's heart.

Visitor's Center 2020 Tour - Pikes Peak America's Mountain

Pikes Peak can be seen as the manifestation of the American spirit and desire to explore and experience our vast frontier. From the time Zebulon Pike spotted the Peak in 1806, through the late 20th century, development on the Peak has exemplified man’s desire to conquer nature. In many ways this is what makes Pikes Peak such an extraordinary place to visit—almost the only place in the world where all people, young and old, in good health and even those with disabilities can experience the summit of a 14,000 peak.

The deteriorating condition of the existing Summit Complex, reminds us, however, that nature wins in the end, unless we learn to build for and live with the environment. The need to replace outdated, difficult to maintain facilities has prompted the City of Colorado Springs, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and Colorado Springs Utilities to embark on a process to design and build a new Summit Visitor Center on one site and consolidate a Plant Building, CSU Communications Facility and High-Altitude Research Laboratory on the second site.

The existing facilities are proposed for decommissioning and removal, with new facilities designed specifically for the various Pikes Peak summit uses, taking into consideration the harsh environment and improving and enhancing the visitor experience.

Interpretive Exhibits

New permanent indoor and outdoor interpretive exhibits will educate visitors about the mountain’s history, climate and geography, recreational opportunities, conservation initiatives, and more. The exhibit gallery inside the Summit Complex will include interactive digital features that will bring the mountain to life and allow visitors to weave their own personal experiences into the mountain’s story. Outside, interpretive rails around the summit will describe the environment and the views, identify key landscape features, and educate visitors with related side stories.

2021 Construction Look Ahead

With considerable construction progress made in 2020, it’s anticipated that the new Pikes Peak Visitor Center will be complete by early summer 2021. Key upcoming milestones include:

  • Placement of the east overlook plaque commemorating Katharine Lee Bates’ writing of America the Beautiful
  • Completion of the south service road, guest parking lot, stairs to the Cog Railway platform, boardwalk railing, plaza-level boulders and landscaping, fully operational lightning protection, and the building’s automated systems
  • Completion of site orientation and areas of interest exhibits
  • Demolition of the 1960s-era Summit House

2020 Construction Highlights

  • Permanent power installed
  • Interior framing and doors, drywall and windows installed
  • North and east boardwalk system and lobby roof deck completed
  • Mechanical equipment, generator and fuel tank installed
  • Donut machine positioned into place
  • Some kitchen equipment installed (freezer, refrigerator, etc)
  • Exterior stone masonry
  • Summit elevation marker installed
  • Shutter track system and flooring work began
  • Permanent antenna communication locations installed
  • Paving at the High Altitude Research Laboratory and visitor center employee parking area

2019 Construction Highlights

  • Mockups were built for materials testing
    • ​Structural window wind load and impact testing was completed in September passing the stringent requirement for this project.
    • The exterior envelope mock-up is in its second revision to coordinate final details of window, waterproofing, steel plate sills and shutter design, expected to be complete by the end of 2019/early 2020.
  • The project team topped out the complex late-October by placing the highest steel beam atop the structure, flanked with American and Colorado State flags.
  • Concrete foundations were completed in August.
  • Concrete and precast was transported and placed for the walls throughout September. Precast wall and deck placement were completed in October except for the east vestibule and north stoop.
  • Central Permatrak boardwalks were completed in October.
  • Permatrak in the central section will be complete by year’s end.
  • The North overlook Permatrak foundations will be completed to approximately 90 percent this season.
  • Reviewed and approved materials to ensure “Living Building Challenge” requirements.
  • Worked with GE Johnson to develop temporary enclosure and waterproofing measures to allow construction within much of the building to continue over the winter.
  • Worked with interpretive designer Gallagher & Associates reviewing exhibit content and narrative and assisted in evaluation of the exhibit fabrication companies.
  • Presented the project to numerous community groups including the US Green Building Council, Historic Preservation Alliance of Colorado Springs and the National Association for Interpretation.
  • Structural steel installation for the upper lobby roof will be 90 percent complete this season.
  • Installation of vapor barrier, rebar/mesh, and MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) system rough-in for the plaza, main, and lower levels are complete except for the lobby and exhibit area.
  • Crews will complete installation of roof slabs, interior topping slabs, and temporary window assemblies which will facilitate the buildout of the Lower Level mechanical and electrical rooms, as well as interior finishes in the main level east areas through this winter. All remaining exterior activities will complete next season. Rock crushing operations and stockpiling for fill materials is complete.

2018 Construction Highlights

  • Excavation to the bottom of the building’s footprint is complete. This included the removal of nearly 10,000 cubic yards of excavated rock, enough to fill more than three Olympic swimming pools.
  • The first phase of foundation footers, including 43 cubic yards of concrete, has been placed in preparation for precast concrete to be laid in June 2019.
  • All micropiles, a deep foundational element, for the central walkway have been placed ahead of schedule.
  • A temporary central processing plant was successfully installed to handle all sewage and water needs of the existing summit house. The existing plant was demolished due to construction. 

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