This project was truly unique opportunity for an architect. Ski lift stations have to be one of the most engineering focused structures ever created. The wheel house is packed full of gears, pullies, flywheels, sensors, and controls. The cable carrying the lift chairs, and tens of thousands of pounds of load, exerts tremendous forces that the stations must be designed to withstand.
Each and every component must be designed to safely and efficiently move people to the top of a mountain - with a focus on safety.
I have snowboarded most of my life, and when I was asked if I'd be interested in assisting with the design of a lift station, I was thrilled. So, I begin to make observations and think more about them, and I began to realize that we really don't pay much attention to lift stations. To be fair, many are simple clad boxes and not much to look at, why would we?
But then when you see the inside and how they function, you begin to realize that, on the inside, they are a kinetic work of art. Each component working in unison to control the speed, spacing and timing of the lift chairs or gondola cabins, whisking thousands of people up a mountain each day.
And so one of my first thoughts was - why are we hiding that?
My second thought was that there wasn't a lot I was going to be able to work with. After all, these assemblies are first and foremost, strictly engineering. Each and every component has a purpose and function. There is no room for superfluous elements.
And lastly, this is a company with a long and rich history (see their timeline), and a leader in the industry. Any design must honor that history and tradition, and yet, also reflect their commitment to the future.