The visitor experience
The story of Pikes Peak is fascinating in all regards and will inform the design process and results. Through close collaboration with each major stakeholder, the design team led by RTA Architects and GWWO Architects, will design an iconic summit experience.
“We have a responsibility to honor the efforts of our forefathers when they constructed the early summit facilities. Those buildings served the needs of visitors originally, but they have reached the end of their useful lives and now actually constrain operations and enjoyment. A new Summit Complex will seek to support the mission of each major stakeholder and provide a new and exciting visitor experience for the 600,000 people who travel to the summit each year. The desire of the RTA/GWWO team is to design buildings and site improvements that are functional, maintainable, energy efficient, educational, inspirational, and timeless.”
---Stuart Coppedge, Principal with RTA Architects.
The goal is to create a seamless, immersive visitor experience. From arrival at the summit and through all steps in their experience, visitors should be focused on and enveloped in the natural forms of the mountain, as well as the expansive views. Designs for the interior and exterior exhibits, site improvements and amenities, and building will become part of the story-telling, merging with the natural environment so that a balance is created and emphasis is placed on the resource and the experience of the Peak. The work will become a part of, rather than an intrusion on, the setting, so that the visitor’s focus remains on the beauty, richness, and history of the nature surrounding them.
Interpretive design of exhibits will bring life to each visitor’s experience, integrating the ability to customize one’s own experience on the Peak and providing opportunities for sharing and storytelling through multi-media interaction and connected sustainability.
Subscribe to New Heights, the Pikes Peak Summit Complex e-newsletter for updates about the design process and for notices of public meetings by sending an email to: SummitComplexInfo@coloradosprings.gov
Federal jurisdiction of the summit requires that, before design and construction of a new Summit Complex could move ahead, an Environmental Assessment (EA) had to take place to consider and disclose any potential environmental effects. The EA process involved soliciting comments from Federal, State and local agencies, and other individuals or organizations interested in or affected by the implementation of the proposed project.
The Pikes Peak Summit Complex Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared under the direction of the United States Forest Service, Pikes Peak Ranger District as the federal lead agency by the environmental planning team of EDM International, Logan Simpson, and SLR under the requirements of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
NEPA is a procedural act followed to ensure that environmental information is available to the public and to public officials, and that input is sought before decisions are made and action is taken. Public involvement through a scoping process is a requirement of the environmental review process.
The EA evaluated a reasonable range of alternatives and analyze the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the project. While the EA is a required, but separate, first step in the overall process of designing and constructing a new Summit Complex, the two processes dovetail with public input informing both efforts.
The project was cleared to break ground after receiving a “Finding of No Significant Impact” on May 3, 2018 following the environmental assessment issued by the U.S. Forest Service.
What Facilities Make Up the Pikes Peak Summit Complex (PPSC)?
The United States Forest Service (USFS) owns the land (the Pike National Forest) on which the Pikes Peak Highway and the Summit House (visitor center) are built, but the City of Colorado Springs operates and maintains these facilities under a special use permit with the USFS. All in all, at the summit of Pikes Peak there are currently a municipal utility facility and three facilities serving federal and local agencies, including:
- The Summit House visitor center and Plant Building, operated as a City Enterprise by Pikes Peak - America's Mountain (PPAM)
- The Maher Memorial High-Altitude Research Laboratory (HARL), operated by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM)
- The Pikes Peak Multi-User Communication Facility, operated by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU)