Only in Colorado: Where a day at the office means working at 14,000 feet!
The top of Pikes Peak sees a lot of traffic as it's one of the most sought-after destinations for outdoorsy folks and visitors to the state. What many who make it to the top might see along with the mountain views and Colorado landscapes is a construction site with a team of 100 construction workers toiling away at the very top of the mountain. The new Pikes Peak Summit Complex is being built to replace the existing Pikes Peak Summit House and promises a new and immersive visitor experience.
When completed, Summit Complex will be a 38,000-square-foot building valued at about $60 million. It will offer more space for visitors, huge glass-plate windows, an open-air deck, dining, retail, and interactive displays. There will be a concrete walkway system to take visitors to different overlooks and connect to the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.
The construction site is a landmark of sorts, all by itself; it's the highest on-going construction site in North America. Now, about 50 percent complete work on the project began in 2018 and was expected to take three or so years to fully finish, but there have been some delays due to weather, including powerful winds, snow, and thunderstorms. Work can only be done a few months of the year when weather permits; late fall to late spring offers the best conditions.
With a worksite at 14,115 feet, construction company GE Johnson faced some different working conditions for this job than most of their other job sites. Working at the top of a 14er presents some challenges that must be dealt with to keep workers safe and produce the best possible end result. All crew members must undergo an extensive physical to make sure they are in shape to work in this kind of extreme environment, including a flexibility test and a Harvard Step fitness assessment. Once they pass these tests, crew members attend an orientation and safety briefing for the special safety measures needed for working at such a high altitude. The workday starts before dawn, and every day begins with a trek up the mountain to the highest worksite many of them have or ever will work at.
Courtesy of GE Johnson
Along with special training, GE Johnson uses special equipment, including a truck purchased specially for this job that navigates the switchbacks and turns up Pikes Peak while hauling materials to the top. The Summit Complex project is working to be LEED-certified as well as meet Living Building Challenge requirements. This is the first Living Building Challenge project in the state of Colorado—the compound has a bioclimatic design for Net Zero energy. Learn more about that here.
Below is a video from GE Johnson about the project, and you can see what is happening through a live webcam set up at the site:
The current Summit House building was built in 1963 and has served thousands and thousands of visitors to one of Colorado’s most iconic spots. The new complex is intended to enhance the experience and upgrade the current facilities while preserving the natural beauty and magic of the mountain.
Fun Colorado fact: Did you know that Pikes Peak inspired the iconic song “America the Beautiful"?
Have you made it to the top of Pikes Peak? Will you head up to see the new Summit Complex when construction is finished? Share your Pikes Peak experiences with us in the comments.