Hovering over the Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies, the recently opened ‘Glacier Skywalk’ offers visitors a breathtaking experience.
The Glacier Skywalk incorporates a meeting area, free viewing area, cliff-edge walkway and observation deck. The impressive curved glass-floored walkway is suspended 280m (918 ft) above the Sunwapta Valley. The ambitious project was completed by the design build team PCL Construction Management, engineering firm Read Jones Christofferson and Sturgess Architeture for Brewster Travel Canada.
“In developing our design, we carefully considered what would maximize the impact of the site for visitors while respecting the environment,” says engineering firm, Read Jones Christofferson. “We wanted to push the limits of the sense of exposure offered and quickly decided that the best way to approach this would be to construct a glass floored walk area. We want people to feel as if they are suspended in the air over the Sunwapta Valley floor.”
The design features an intricate cable suspension system that reduces the appearance of the supports and thus gives users the sense of danger as they walk about the dramatic landscape. The walkway floor is made of tempered and heat strengthened glass, reveals an obstructed view below. Cor-ten steel or weathering steel was selected because of the bulk of the structure can be substantially fabricated off-site; it is very durable, has limited maintenance requirements and will blend in with the surrounding geology.
The total cost to complete the Glacier Skywalk was approximately US $19 million.