Design & Engineering
The vision behind the Columbia Icefield Skywalk’s design was simple: depend on the natural environment, draw inspiration from it, and integrate with it. With a non-negotiable commitment to an environmentally sound design, Pursuit (formerly known as Brewster Travel Canada) enlisted the help of Sturgess Architecture and Read Jones Christofferson Engineering (RJC). Having worked with Sturgess and RJC for two years, Pursuit unveiled the Columbia Icefield Skywalk’s design in 2011. It was immediately recognized with a World Architecture Festival Award in 2011, where judges said, “The jury was unanimous. This is a simple, elegant yet highly emotional project.
Designed as an extension of the surrounding landscape, the Columbia Icefield Skywalk is entwined in a rock-solid relationship with the natural environment. The structure is built into native bedrock, with weathering steel, glass and wood. These materials mirror, rather than distract from, the natural environment—and are free of paint and other toxins. Keenly aware of and sympathetic to its surroundings, the Columbia Icefield Skywalk is dedicated to a near-zero footprint. Canada’s Globe and Mail stated, “The [Columbia Icefield] Skywalk is an audacious promenade that matches rather than shrinks from an epic landscape.”
Design and materials used for the Columbia Icefield Skywalk were specially selected to blend in with the natural landscape. The Corten steel used in the structure is tough weathering steel designed to oxidize in synchronicity with natural environments. The self-sealing metal changes colour as it rusts to mirror the iron oxide in the rocks around it. Materials free of paint and other toxins were specifically chosen for the project. The limited facilities at the Columbia Icefield Skywalk site and fully solar-powered operation minimize environmental footprint, and the relocation of the parking area to the nearby Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre is designed to have a positive impact on traffic-wildlife incidents.
The Rocky Mountain National Parks are a haven for visitors from near and far. Wherever you call home, whether it’s your first visit or your tenth, and whether you are spending the night in a backcountry cabin or experiencing the hospitality of the town of Jasper—the national park represents a place of peace and wilderness for everyone.