Elevating Banff’s Top Attraction | PCL

Elevating Banff’s Top Attraction

An international destination high in the Alberta Rockies, the Banff Gondola takes visitors of Banff National Park to the top of Sulphur Mountain, to an elevation of 2,281 meters (7,486 feet). While at the apex of Sulphur Mountain, visitors are exposed to the beautiful panorama of the park’s hiking trails, local wildlife, and of course, the spectacular Rocky Mountains.
The Banff Gondola upper terminal building offers a
unique interactive experience for visitors to Banff
National Park.

Picture-perfect views of the Canadian Rockies await
visitors on the expanded 360-degree rooftop
observation deck.

Top off your day in the Rockies with fine dining
above the clouds.​





In October 2016, this attraction garnered even more attention with the unveiling of the $26 million, state-of-the-art renovation to the upper terminal building. The updates to the building provide guests with an interactive family-friendly interpretive experience, a specialty cinema with theatre presentations, an expanded rooftop viewing deck, and all new food and beverage offerings.

WHAT GOES UP . . .

With a lack of access roads to the site high atop the mountain, and few alternative options, PCL relied on material carts fixed to the gondola’s steel cables to carry up to 500 kg (1,100 lb.) of construction material per load.

The original design did not take into consideration the use of a crane for construction, owing to the remote location. The team worked with the structural engineer to adapt the design, and PCL arranged for a helicopter to transport a derrick crane to the upper terminal building at the top of the mountain. Thirty separate lifts carried all the pieces to the site and dropped them into place.

The demolition of the existing structure meant that those materials also needed to come down from the mountain. More than 312 tons of concrete, 149 tons of steel, and 79 tons of debris—which was sorted and most of it recycled—were transported down the mountain through a complex schedule of gondola material carts and helicopter lifts, all while accommodating the client’s requirement to ensure the guest experience was never compromised.

EXPOSED TO THE ELEMENTS

The unique location of the project presented its own set of environmental challenges. Wind gusts of up to 125 km/h (77 mph), extreme temperatures, and wildlife were just some of the considerations managed by the project team when working at such a high altitude.

Safety is always a top priority. The entire team supported a strong safety culture and were proactive in working collaboratively to ensure the safety of all members of the construction crew. Over 300 helicopter pickups and drop-offs were safely and successfully executed.

Particular attention was paid to flight patterns to address windy conditions. First-aid kits—designed specifically for the eventuality of a power failure caused by a mountain storm—were stocked with sleeping bags and food in case weather prevented the workers from leaving the mountain. In addition, safety protocols were developed and coordinated with gondola staff to ensure that all workers were transported safely to the base of the mountain at the end of each shift.

As a top tourist destination, the project required an aggressive timeline that included multiple partial occupancies of various areas within the building, including the gift shop, coffee shop, interpretive center, and restaurant. These partial occupancies were achieved as requested by the client, allowing visitors to continue experiencing the Rocky Mountain splendor of Banff from on high.

Testimonial
​​

“We are thrilled to announce the grand opening of the all-new mountaintop experience at the Banff Gondola. The enhancements made will provide future generations of visitors the opportunity to experience Banff and the Canadian Rockies like never before.”
- Dave McKenna, president, Brewster Travel Canada​​​

 

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