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