COLORADO SPRINGS — After months of closures in order to make progress on construction, the summit of Pikes Peak will reopen to visitors on Tuesday.
“I think I might call it organized chaos,” said Jack Glavan, the manager of Pikes Peak America’s Mountain, “It isn’t quite complete; it’s still going to be an experience at 14,000 feet.”
Construction on the new $65 Million summit house is nearing completion. The summit house won’t open until June 24th, but the North and West sides of the summit will be accessible until that point to hikers and some drivers. Most people will likely need to shuttle to the summit because of limited parking as construction ensues.
“Over the years, the peak has become a bit cluttered,” said Alan Reed, the President and design principal for GWWO Architects, “We’ve always thought about cleaning up the peak, so to speak, thinking about sustainability and keeping people off that habitat.”
The design included more ways to recycle water in the building. It will have solar panels that will generate more electricity than what the building can use, and trash cans only available inside to limit what blows away. After a two-year certification process, the building could become the first in Colorado to be Living Building Challenge, recognizing net-zero energy buildings that strive to be highly sustainable.
The parking lot will be paved to reduce the impact of cars, and sidewalks will stretch across the whole summit block of the mountain, allowing ADA accessibility over nearly the entire complex.
“Whether you are a world-class Olympic athlete or a quadriplegic in a motorized wheelchair, you can experience a summit at 14,000 feet,” said Stuart Coppedge, the principal architect at RTA Architect in Colorado Springs.
The cafeteria in the new summit house is larger than the entire structure of the old one (which should be completely demolished by the end of this week).
The new building has museum-like exhibits that show the history and geology of Pikes Peak, as well as its topography and how it compares to peaks around the world.
“We’ve learned not so much about conquering mountains as much as we’ve learned about living with them and really, the environment in general.” Coppedge said, “This was a once in a lifetime chance to do something very special up here to make sure that 100 years from now, our grandkids and great-grandkids can still enjoy this extraordinary experience up here.”
The summit house will open on June 24 and, while some construction will continue, Coppedge says it will be finishing touches and exterior work. A grand opening is scheduled for June 30.