Pikes Peak, the majestic fourteener that Colorado College students are lucky enough to wake up to every morning, is one of the country’s most visited mountains—over 600,000 reach the top every year.

Many view Pikes as a “manifestation of the American spirit, and desire to explore and experience [the] vast frontier.” The development of various methods of summiting the mountain has made it possible for everyone to visit Pikes Peak, not only those who are able and willing to hike a fourteener. 

As a result of the high volume of visitors, discussion about redesigning the building at the summit has been on the table for some time. The City of Colorado Springs, along with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, has acknowledged that “nature wins in the end, unless we learn to build for and live with the environment.” The current summit house has been described as “outdated and deteriorating” and as not “an adequate marker for the top of such a majestic peak.”

The existing house was built with a very utilitarian frame of mind—its purpose was to provide a building for shelter, food, and possibly souvenirs. Now, however, the goal is to create a building that is useful, while also being aesthetically pleasing and complementary to the surrounding landscape. The most widespread criticism of the current summit house is its lack of windows. People go to the top of Pikes to experience the outdoors, and would like that feeling to be preserved even when they rest, eat, and shop inside. 

Over 100 people came out on Jan. 26 of this year to see the reveal of the plans for the new house. The chosen design is the result of a long and involved process, combining elements of the four most popular proposals. The voting process took place earlier in 2015 and was open to the Colorado Springs public. People were presented with a large number of different proposals, all ranging in style and size. It is important to the planning committee that the citizens of Colorado Springs have a large say in the process. 

The majority of the people at the unveiling agreed that the final design is both “modern and unobtrusive,” with one of the main goals of the redesign being to preserve the natural beauty of the summit. Many have speculated that using architecture that looks “too modern” would take away from the nature itself. 

Jack Glavan, manager of Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, says that the new house will be predominantly made up of “local granite and beetle-kill pine.” The building will also aim to use renewable energy sources, with solar panels producing around 40 percent of the estimated energy needs. 

The U.S. Forest service has yet to offer their official environmental approval, which is necessary for the project to move forward. This will ensure that the new house utilizes the most environmentally friendly energy processes possible. One of the big things that people were happy with was the minimalist design of the house, referring to both the design and the environmental impact. 

The building itself will contain a cafe area and a “large outdoor viewing deck.” The floor-to-ceiling windows are designed to provide magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and landscape. The designers’ main objective has been to “focus on not taking away from the natural beauty of the summit.” 

While several teams have been at work on this project for some time, it will certainly not happen right away. Construction is not scheduled to start until 2017, and should take two to three years to complete. This is a project of massive proportions, and is estimated to cost somewhere between $20 and $30 million.

The final building will be a huge improvement on the “old and tired facility” that resides on the peak today. It will likely draw even more people to the summit and facilitate a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience. 

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