There is a steep learning curve happening on the top of Pikes Peak. Construction of the new summit house starts this summer and despite extensive building experience, the contractor, G.E. Johnson, is doing some continuing education for this project. "We do like challenges and every project is unique," said G.E. Johnson, CEO, Jim Johnson. Construction plans and materials have to be customized for the extreme conditions above 14,000 feet.
There will be two construction sites. One off the mountain. "Pre-planning and pre-work, that’s going to go on to prefabricate the vast majority of the building," said Johnson. Then the building will go up the mountain in sections and put together at the final build site at the summit of Pikes Peak.
Any workers assigned to this project have to medically qualify. "They have to go through a pre-hire and pre-physical fit, before we’ll dispatch them up here to work." It is mostly for safety. Altitude can impact both physical and mental functioning.
Then there is the effects of conditions on building materials. There are test sites currently at various locations on top of the mountain testing how different materials hold up to the harsh weather. "Primarily of the exterior skin to see how they will weather through the whole duration,” said Johnson, “The wind and the grit that it hauls has been the biggest enemy of the different glazing systems and siding."