PROJECT Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center
ARCHITECT GWWO Architects:GWWO: Alan Reed, Al Ip, Amanda Moore, Patrick Fava, Zach Grajewski; RTA: Stuart Coppedge, Mike Riggs, Brian CalhounArchitect of Record: RTA Architects
GENERAL CONTRACTOR GE Johnson Construction Company
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT DHM Design
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER HCDA Engineering
CIVIL ENGINEER Kiowa Engineering
MECHANICAL ENGINEER BranchPattern
ELECTRICAL ENGINEER BranchPattern
PHOTOGRAPHER/RENDERER Nic Lehoux
LOCATION Cascade, Colorado, US
PROJECT COMPLETION DATE 9/26/2022
Yearly, nearly a million people ascend to the summit of Pikes Peak, where they are rewarded with views that inspired “America the Beautiful.” The careful placement and sensitive design of this new visitor center at 14,115 feet, the highest facility of its type in the world, places the focus on the stunning landscape, allowing boundless sky and views to take center stage.
Embedded into the mountainside, the low-rise structure is seemingly carved from the southeast side of the peak. Its form and materials, with stone inspired by Pikes Peak granite, evoke the crags and rock formations found above the trees. From below, the building appears as a building of the mountain rather than one on the mountain, yet as visitors arrive at the summit it emerges as a clear destination.
Entering from the peak, visitors are awed by the framed view of Mt. Rosa, the summit that Zebulon Pike climbed in 1806. The architecture of the pavilion highlights the relationship between the two landforms; the viewing angle from the upper lobby to Mt. Rosa slopes down 3.5-degrees, with the same angle echoed by the roof’s upward slope. Stairs to the main level appear to fold down out of the mountain, as visitors descend to the main floor to access exhibits, dining, a gift shop, and restrooms. Warm, rustic colors and natural materials, including locally-sourced timber, further connect the interior to the landscape. With its terraced design, the building itself serves as an ideal platform from which to survey the views. Featuring two accessible roof decks, an elevated viewing platform, and a network of protected walkways, the new visitor center stages a series of opportunities to experience the drama of the landscape.
Environmental stewardship is central to the design, and the team embraced the challenge to create a highly sustainable building in one of the most difficult settings imaginable. The visitor center is designed to meet the Living Building Challenge and LEED Silver and aiming to achieve net zero energy and waste. Most importantly, the building provides refuge for all in the event of a severe weather change in this unpredictable climate.
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Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center
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