Caution - do not keep reading if you are scared of heights!
Perched at the summit of Pikes Peak Mountain, at a whopping elevation of 14,115 feet, the new state-of-the-art visitor center, Pikes Peak Summit Complex, opened to the public on June 30th, 2021.
Around the outside of the visitor center, a uniquely designed PermaTrak boardwalk offers visitors breathtaking views of the Colorado Rocky Mountain range.
The new PermaTrak boardwalk offers visitors spectacular views of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Pikes Peak Mountain, or “America’s Mountain,” is a top tourist attraction in Colorado with over 750,000 travelers reaching the summit each year. Visitors can access the new Pikes Peak Summit Complex via the Pikes Peak Highway, the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, and multiple hiking trails.
The PermaTrak walkways surrounding the visitor center are fully ADA compliant.
Opening the door for as many visitors as possible to experience the beauty of the summit, the PermaTrak walkways are fully ADA compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act).
PermaTrak - The Perfect Fit
Why was PermaTrak’s precast concrete boardwalk a perfect fit for the Pikes Peak project?
Let’s start with the geographical location - the top of a mountain.
There’s a reason that building a new Pikes Peak Summit Complex was a necessity. The harsh winters and inclement weather conditions had caused the deterioration and breakdown of the previous visitor’s center over time.
The City of Colorado Springs, in partnership with Colorado Springs Utilities, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, and the U.S. Forest Service knew the Summit Complex needed low-maintenance, durable materials that would propel the facilities far into the future.
Durability with Virtually No Maintenance
PermaTrak’s precast concrete boardwalks were the best option for the project’s walkways.
Concrete is a durable material, well suited to many environments whether cold, hot, dry, or damp. The reinforced precast concrete PermaTrak system requires very little maintenance, with a design life of 50-75 years.
It’s actually built to get stronger over time and is highly resistant to wear and tear. Unlike other composite or timber options, precast concrete is also a noncombustible material and doesn’t rot, warp, or pull up.
Pikes Peak Summit Complex visitors pose for a picture on one of PermaTrak’s precast concrete boardwalks.
Low Environmental Impact
The Pikes Peak Summit Complex is located in a geologically sensitive area. The City of Colorado Springs and the state of Colorado seek to preserve and conserve the region for future generations, so that our children and children’s children can experience nature’s beauty.
In that vein, project designers and architects sought to adhere to “Living Building Challenge” guidelines. The Living Building Challenge is a “philosophy, certification, and advocacy tool for projects” and challenges all design professionals, contractors, and building owners “to transform the way we create the built environment radically and eliminate any negative impact on global health.”
Project Lead Architect Michael Riggs of RTA Architects and principal landscape architect Eileen Kemp for DHM Design helped to ensure that all products and materials were thoroughly reviewed and approved before getting delivered to the top of the mountain. Toxic components, such as neoprene, were not allowed to exist in any of the facility building materials - both inside and out.
The Pikes Peak Summit Complex Project achieved a USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) LEEDS Silver Certification for its dedication to promoting sustainability and low environmental impact across the board.
For any project seeking to follow Living Building Challenge guidelines , PermaTrak’s concrete boardwalks are a great fit. Unlike timber, precast concrete boardwalks are not treated with any chemicals. Further, whereas other boardwalk materials may require the use of sealants or preservative materials, concrete boardwalks do not need anything additional. This eliminates the possibility of the sealants or preservative materials eventually leaching into the surrounding soils.
Precast concrete materials are much less disruptive to the environment when the boardwalk is installed - including less dust, noise, and pollution on the project site.
It is also worth noting that the total ecological impact of concrete boardwalks is kept to a minimum. Generally speaking, natural and locally sourced materials (sand, coarse and fine stone) are used in production whenever possible, which lowers transportation costs and fossil fuel usage.
The Pikes Peak Summit Cogway drops off passengers at a PermaTrak boardwalk, leading to the visitors’ center.
Based on all these factors, the Pikes Peak Summit Complex stakeholders engaged in a PermaTrak partnership early on in the process, and they were off to the races with the design and construction phases.
As early as 2018, the first phase of foundation footers had been completed in anticipation of the precast concrete boardwalks being installed the following year. For certain parts of the walkway, engineers and designers utilized driven precast concrete piling as a long-term, incredibly durable deep foundation option. About 43 cubic yards of concrete were placed around the visitor center.
Early construction showcases the beautiful views of the Pikes Peak Summit and the predriven concrete piling used as a foundation for some parts of the PermaTrak walkway.
For the majority of the central walkway, micropiles were used as a deep foundation option for the boardwalk installation. Micropiles are smaller than traditional pipe piles and provide a good choice for areas sensitive to noise or vibration.
Micropiles give designers a deep foundational option that can be installed with smaller drilling equipment.
Important for the Pikes Peak project specifically, micropiles can be installed with smaller drilling equipment. Since all the construction materials and equipment had to be transported up and down the mountain, this was a key factor for designers in choosing this foundational option.
Following the completion of the concrete and micropile foundations, the central PermaTrak boardwalks were completed in October of 2019. The remaining boardwalk sections, including the scenic North overlook (seen in multiple pictures above), were completed through the end of 2019 and into 2021.
A Grand Opening For a Grand Project
PermaTrak president Jason Philbin joined other stakeholders, national and local media outlets, and eager first-time visitors at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on June 30th, 2021. He even brought back a commemorative piece of ribbon back to the Charlotte office.
PermaTrak President Jason Philbin attends the grand opening ceremony at Pikes Peak Complex Summit on June 30th, 2021.
The ribbon cutting ceremony at the Pikes Peak Summit Complex’s grand opening on June 30th, 2021.
The grand opening celebrations cap off a special PermaTrak boardwalk project multiple years in the making.
National and Local Media Coverage
Check out the grand opening coverage on multiple national and local media outlets below:
- Rob Marciano from Good Morning America was live with GMA on Pikes Peak: https://abcn.ws/3jzXP6C
- Pikes Peak Summit Complex – The Gazette: https://gazette.com/life/life-pikes-peak-summit-complex/video_bc7463a9-fb76-5ea7-899c-b51ea7f4cbd8.html
- KRDO: https://krdo.com/news/top-stories/2021/06/24/new-pikes-peak-summit-complex-opens-to-public-thursday/
If you’re interested in learning more about PermaTrak, here are some helpful links: