Citizen Input Shapes New Visitor Experience
Pikes Peak -- America's Mountain -- is one of the most visited mountains in the world and a top tourist attraction for the State of Colorado. Annually, more than 600,000 people reach the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway, the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway, or, for the more adventurous, the Barr or Crags hiking trails. Pikes Peak is an American icon, and the summit is a National Historic Landmark (NHL) that holds a special place in America's heart.
The deteriorating conditions of the existing Summit Complex has prompted the City of Colorado Springs, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army and Colorado Springs Utilities, to embark on a process to design and build a new Summit Visitor Center on one site and to consolidate the Plant Building, Communications Facility and High-Altitude Research Laboratory on the second site.
Existing facilities are proposed for decommissioning and removal, with new facilities designed specifically for the various Pikes Peak summit uses, taking into consideration the harsh environment and improving and enhancing the visitor experience above a 14,000-foot elevation.
The project emphasizes protection of heritage resources and the National Historic Landmark status, alpine tundra restoration and interpretive elements. The essence of each visitor's experience at the summit of Pikes Peak involves multiple levels of learning, multiple levels of experience, and unique visitor diversity. The new design will seek to bring together an outdoor experience, capitalized views, honoring of history, building architecture and materials, the route and transportation experience to get to the peak, and interactive programming through interpretive design.
The goal is to facilitate a meaningful, engaging and educational experience for a broad, diverse public, relative to age, cultural background, occupation, knowledge, mobility, learning style and motivation for visiting the summit of Pikes Peak.
What Facilities Comprise the
Pikes Peak Summit Complex?
The United States Forest Service (USFS) owns the land (the Pike National Forest) on which the Pikes Peak Highway and the Summit House (visitor center) are built, but the City of Colorado Springs manages and maintains these facilities (operating under a special use permit with the USFS). At the summit of Pikes Peak there is currently a municipal utility facility and three buildings serving federal and local agencies, including:
- The Summit House visitor center and Plant Building, operated as a City Enterprise by Pikes Peak - America's Mountain (PPAM)
- The Maher Memorial High-Altitude Research Laboratory (HARL), operated by the U.S. Army Research of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM)
- The Pikes Peak Multi-User Communication Facility, operated by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU)
Your Summit Experience --
Tell Us Your Thoughts
Forward to your family and friends throughout America.
Click here to participate in a short online design survey.
This survey is for input on the design of the facilities (not for official EA comment). For EA comment click here.
A Required First Step
Federal jurisdiction of the summit requires that, before design and construction of a new Summit Complex can move ahead, an Environmental Assessment (EA) must take place to consider and disclose any potential environmental and cultural effects. The EA process involves soliciting comments from Federal, State and local agencies, and other individuals or organizations interested in or affected by implementation of the proposed project. The public is invited to provide input into the EA at an upcoming scoping meeting/open house.
EA Public Scoping Meeting/Open House
August 25, 2015
Location: Pikes Peak Library21C
1175 Chapel Hills Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Room: Venue @ 21C
Time: 3 - 7 p.m.
(Open House format; drop by any time as there will be no formal presentation.)
The open house will provide the public background information on the project, opportunities for input on general environmental and cultural impacts and for identifying key issues to be analyzed in the EA, as well as opportunities to provide the design team a vision for shaping the Summit Complex visitor experience.
Environmental Assessment Process -- Long Term Impact
The Pikes Peak Summit Complex Environmental Assessment (EA) is being prepared under the direction of the United States Forest Service, Pikes Peak Ranger District as federal lead agency by the environmental planning firm of Logan Simpson under the requirements of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
NEPA is a procedural act followed to ensure that environmental information is available to the public and to public officials, and that input is sought before decisions are made and action is taken. Public involvement through a scoping process is a requirement of the environmental review. The official scoping comment period for the EA occurs between August 21 and September 21, 2015.
The EA will evaluate a reasonable range of alternatives and analyze the social, economical, cultural, and environmental impacts of the project. While the EA is a required, but separate, first step in the overall process of designing and constructing a new Summit Complex, the two processes will dovetail with public input informing both efforts.
For more information about the Pikes Peak Summit Complex EA and how to submit comments to the official EA document, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/project=47229&exp=overview.
Click here to read the US Forest Service newsletter about the process.
Design Process -- Focusing On Visitor Experience
To design the new Summit Complex, the City has contracted with the Colorado Springs firm of RTA Architects teamed with GWWO Architects of Baltimore, two award-winning firms committed to creating an inspiring and enhanced visitor experience. "We have a responsibility to honor the efforts of our forefathers when they constructed the early summit facilities. Those buildings served the needs of visitors originally, but they have reached the end of their useful lives and now actually constrain operations and enjoyment," said Stuart Coppedge, Principal with RTA Architects. "A new Summit Complex will seek to support the mission of each major stakeholder and provide a new and exciting visitor experience for the 600,000 people who travel to the summit each year. The desire of the RTA team is to design buildings and site improvements that are functional, maintainable, energy efficient, educational, inspirational, and timeless." Interpretive design of exhibits and will bring life to each visitor's experience, integrating the ability to customize one's own experience on the peak, opportunities for sharing, and storytelling through multi-media interaction and connected sustainability.
Dovetailing with the EA scoping process, the design team will seek public input through a series of online surveys and public meetings to help create a summit experience for all to enjoy for decades to come.
For more information about the Pikes Peak Summit Complex design process and to sign up to receive notices of public meetings, visit: www.PikesPeakColorado.com and select topic button, "Summit Complex Project."