Upon completion, The Skywalk will be the first-ever cantilever shaped glass bridge to suspend more than 4,000 feet above the Colorado River and extend over the edge of the Grand Canyon.
The Skywalk, originally set to open in January, is now scheduled for completion by mid-summer and to open to the public by the end of the year, due to design changes planned for the building that will serve as the visitor's center and entrance to the structure. An exact date for the public grand opening will be announced closer to completion of construction. New features planned for The Skywalk include: an underground canyon cellar for dining; a trolley designed to maintain the underside of the glass bridge and offer rides to guests; and rooftop dining; as well as additional unique features to be announced at a later date.
Located at Grand Canyon West's Eagle Point, The Skywalk facility will also include a 6,000-square-foot visitor's center on three levels -- underground, first story and second story -- which will contain a museum, movie theater, VIP lounge, gift shop, and several restaurants and bars, including a high-end restaurant called The Skywalk Café that will offer outdoor patio and rooftop seating on the edge of the canyon. The second story will be where visitors can access The Skywalk glass bridge. The visitor's center will also offer private indoor and outdoor facilities for meetings, special events and weddings.
Envisioned by Las Vegas-based entrepreneur David Jin, The Skywalk was designed by MRJ Architects and is being structurally engineered by Lochsa Engineering, LLC and built by Apco Construction. The glass is being manufactured in Germany by Saint Gobain, a European company that specializes in designing structural glass for unique building projects worldwide.
Approximately 10 feet wide, the bridge's deck will be made of tempered glass several inches thick, extend 70 feet from the edge, and feature five-foot glass railings on each side. The floor of the structure will be comprised of 41 pieces of layered curved glass, with its top layer replaceable in case of scratches that affect visibility. Each piece of glass will be held together by glass connectors specifically designed by Saint Gobain for the bridge. Grand Canyon West plans to issue shoe covers to each guest -- in order to avoid scratches and slipping -- which will be numbered and given to the visitors who have walked the bridge.
Construction is now underway as the steel, manufactured by Mark Steel in Utah, is being delivered in pieces. By the end of February, the steel will be completely delivered and a 24-hour on site crew will begin the process of welding it into place. A wooden crib device will be constructed on site in order to roll out each steel piece to form the bridge's cantilever "U" shape. Shortly after the steel is fitted, the glass will be delivered and installed by the same wooden crib device. The glass bridge is scheduled to be in place by the end of July. By then, the bridge will be visible to visitors at Eagle Point, but will not be accessible until it opens to the public upon completion of the visitor's center. Although the project's testing and materials design is complete, construction of The Skywalk and visitor's center at Grand Canyon West is reliant upon road conditions and working in a remote location, which can affect the ultimate grand opening date scheduled for fourth quarter. Grand Canyon West will continue to keep the public apprised of construction progress with periodic announcements.
The Hualapai see The Skywalk as a unique new way for visitors from around the world to view the Grand Canyon. As owners and protectors of nearly one million acres of land throughout the Grand Canyon's western rim, the tribe's main goal is to keep a balance between form, function and nature while protecting the tribe's culture and values. The Hualapai completed all necessary environmental reviews for the project, which will have a tremendous beneficial economic impact on the tribe.
"The Hualapai Tribe is looking forward to sharing The Skywalk with the world," said Sheri Yellowhawk, CEO of Grand Canyon Resort Corp. "However, because this is the first project of its kind, we want to make every effort to ensure the experience is absolutely spectacular. The new designs planned for the visitor's center will only enhance the guest experience that much more -- for generations to come."
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