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One of the four options (Option 3) being considered for a new Summit House design would be built on two levels and have an airfoil shape, to better handle the high winds. The rendering at the left shows how the structure could be positioned toward the east side of the Pikes Peak summit, with an overhang allowing people to look straight down. The narrow gray and tan shapes to the left define potential parking and walkways (tan only). Note: It was explained at the Oct. 7 meeting that the white color for the building was used because a final decision on the exterior has not yet been determined.
Westside Pioneer photo

Options for new Pikes Peak Summit House share ideal of enhanced experience

Steve Horner, an engineer working on the Summit House project, answers a question from Westside resident Melissa Walker, who is also president of the Friends of Garden of the Gods (FOGG).
Westside Pioneer photo
       The future of Pikes Peak loomed large to well over a hundred people Oct. 7 who attended a public meeting/open house on its summit's future.
       They got to view 20-some display boards arranged in the Peak View Conference Center at the Garden of the Gods Trading Post and to hear presentations on four potential preliminary options for a new Summit House - the facility that handles visitors arriving from the cog railway, Pikes Peak Highway and Barr Trail.
       No decisions were made at the meeting, and even the options that were shown appeared in white because it hasn't been determined yet what sort of materials will be used for the new structure's exterior.
       But attendees did get a sense of what possibilities exist. The options ranged from a mostly one-story layout that Alan Reed, a lead consultant, described as the most minimal, to Option 4, a more prominent structure which suggests large glass panes offering great views of storms.
       In the project, the city is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Springs Utilities (whose facilities at the summit are separate from the Summit House) and the U.S. Army (which is following a separate planning process for replacing its current research lab there). Private consultants consist of a local design contractor, RTA Architects; and Reed's GWWO, which has helped design national parks, according to project public relations lead Lisa Bachman.
       The current Summit House, which was built in the early '60s and is showing signs of deterioration, is operated as a city enterprise under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service.
       As presented at the meeting, some key prevailing themes for the new facility are improved views (the current building interior has virtually none); added opportunities to learn about the peak's flora, fauna and
The current Summit House was built in the 1960s and is deteriorating, according to local officials.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Parks (from its website)
history; an energy-efficient design that matches the terrain of the summit; a layout that will make the facility feel less crowded; and quality construction that will allow the new complex “to last a long, long time,” according to Stuart Coppedge of RTA.
       As presented, each of the four options would have a total of 26,000 square feet of space (the current facility is 12,000 square feet), with a 200-seat dining area, a gift shop, interpretative space, indoor/outdoor viewing possibilities, kitchen/maintenance/staff areas and parking for up to 200 cars.
       The comments from Coppedge and Reed, in context with the display boards, made it clear that they aren't discounting the challenges of building on top of a 14,115-foot-high mountain, with issues such as lightning, high winds, altitude, low temperatures, snowdrifts and permafrost.
       The project planning is in what's being called Phase 1 - (Programming and Development of Design Concepts). This will turn to Phase 2 (Concept Review and Selection) this winter and then Phase 3
As meeting/open house attendees look at display boards in the background, Stuart Coppedge, a Summit House project consultant, gets interviewed by a TV newscaster Oct. 7.
Westside Pioneer photo
(Plan Development) in the spring. But even before Phase 3, “around the first of the year” a building contractor is to be hired, Coppedge said. The thinking is that this will help in finalizing the plans.
       As far as construction, Coppedge said he believes “we'll need the summers of 2016 and 2017” to complete the work. Details on how the work would be accomplished are still under consideration. One possibility, Reed said, is building segments in Colorado Springs and then flying them up to the summit in a helicopter.
       The current Summit House would remain open during the project.
       For more information, or to offer comments, go to pikespeakcolorado.com and click the Summit Complex Project button. As of Oct. 9, the options from the Oct. 7 meeting had not yet been displayed on the website. To be notified of future updates, the e-mail address is SummitComplexInfo@springsgov.com.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 10/9/15; Projects: Summit House)

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