Finding the perfect balance between a dynamic building that presents a clear destination to visitors and minimalist structure deferential to the Peak and its majestic views was critical to the design of the new Pikes Peak Summit House. Viewed from below, it is one with the mountain, yet as one arrives at the Peak, the modest entry pavilion is a clear destination.
Upon approach to the summit, visitors take in the expansive and pristine views, just as Zebulon Pike saw and scientist Edwin James, as well as Native Americans before them, experienced over 200 years ago. To the left and right, rooftop terraces become an extension of the summit, blending with the tundra and bringing visitors closer to the edge to experience 180 degrees of unobstructed and undisturbed views. Inside, sited to frame the view of Mt. Rosa, the location from where Pike viewed the Peak in 1806, the pavilion’s lobby provides a sheltered area to view the surrounding landscape, while affording access to the main level of the Summit House below. 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 fortified by the ceiling’s beetle kill pine uniquely tie the interior to the region.
Captivating, but also functional, the building is sited to take advantage of the unique environmental conditions present on the top of Pikes Peak. Nestled into the mountain, exposure to the harsh winds is minimized, while the mass of the building provides sheltered outdoor areas from which to enjoy the views. The orientation of the building to the south takes full advantage of the enhanced solar gain at altitude, including daylight harvesting and the incorporation of photovoltaics to generate electricity. In addition, the thermal mass of the building’s stone cladding helps capture and radiate heat generated by the sun to the interior of the building.
GWWO is serving as Design Architect with RTA Architects as Architect-of-Record.