Glacier Skywalk won the Future Projects, Competition Entries Award at the World Architecture Festival, which took place in Barcelona in November of 2011.

An Experience to Remember

Glacier Skywalk, Jasper National Park, AB

It is all about the visitor experience at Glacier Skywalk.

The Glacier Skywalk is a beautiful and dramatic structure – set to welcome guests from around in the world in May 2014. RJC is the design lead and structural engineer for the Glacier Skywalk, with design build team lead PCL Construction Management and architect Sturgess Architecture. While in design the project won a World Architecture Festival Future Projects Award, and in 2014 was the recipient of a Consulting Engineers of Alberta Award of Excellence.

Brewster’s vision was to create an opportunity for visitors to view and connect with the Sunwapta Valley in a meaningful and memorable way. Glacier Skywalk includes a receiving area, a free viewing area, and an interpretive trail that follows a path of learning, surprise and discovery. The trail leads to the Discovery Vista, an outlook cantilevering 35m beyond the face of the cliff to claim one of the finest and most exhilarating views in the world. The Vista includes a glass walkway, heightening guests’ sense of exposure.

In developing our design, we carefully considered what would maximize the impact of the site for visitors while respecting the environment. 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. By curving the glass walkway in plan, we can further emphasize the sense of exposure as it extends beyond the supporting structure. We want people to feel as if they are suspended in the air over the Sunwapta Valley floor. The curved plan also allows us to use a unique cable suspension system to minimize visible support, thus enhancing the sense of excitement as you walk along it.

When contemplating material choices and construction methods, we took into consideration the local site restrictions, the importance of blending the structure into the natural surroundings, long term durability and ongoing maintenance requirements, budgetary considerations, as well as the expressed desire for a rapid construction time. Weathering steel was selected because the bulk of the structure can be substantially fabricated off-site, it is very durable, has limited maintenance requirements and will naturally blend in with the surrounding geology.