As a facility that invites visitors to explore the natural beauty of coastal B.C., using the wood as the primary material was a natural choice for the project team.
Opening in 2014, the Sea to Sky Gondola provides easy access to the summit of the Stawamus Chief, a rock bluff that rises 850m above the waters of Howe Sound. Located outside of the town of Squamish, a 45-minute drive north of Vancouver, the new facility has reinforced the town's reputation as the 'Outdoor Capital of Canada'.
The completed facility includes a gondola terminal, administration offices and retail spaces at the base of the gondola. At the top, an eight-minute ride away, is a Summit Lodge with cafeteria and group dining areas, a large outdoor viewing deck, a 90-metre suspension bridge and access to hiking trails and other recreational opportunities.
The location of the Summit Lodge presented challenges to the design team because of the very high snow loads, the steep and narrow access road and the short construction season. A prefabricated glue-laminated timber post and beam system was the optimal choice for the primary structure as it offered the necessary strength, was light in weight for efficient transportation and promised a quick construction time.