Science Meets Nature High Above the Grand Canyon
An inspired blend of creative architecture, engineering, and technology combined with innovative building materials led to the creation of a magnificent new Skywalk at Grand Canyon West’s Eagle Point in northwestern Arizona.
The Grand Canyon is a destination for millions of travelers worldwide. Now visitors can step out on the new U-shaped Skywalk observation platform and stand on glass flooring suspended 21.336 m (70 ft) over the canyon’s edge and 1219.2 m (4,000 ft) above the Colorado River. They experience the sensation of floating high above the canyon, without visible supports, for a clear panoramic view of the scenic area usually the domain of eagles and hang gliders. Located on the West Rim of the canyon, the Skywalk opened to the public March 28, 2007.
Putting Science to Work: The Possible Dream
From concept to completion of the ambitious two-year project, the building of the Skywalk meant combining the talents of architects, engineers, construction experts, glass suppliers and laminators using high-performance materials. These materials are critical to the safety and security of people at high altitudes in the canyon’s harsh environment. Strength, stiffness, and optical clarity all contribute to visitors’ viewing experience.
An ultra-clear SentryGlas® ionoplast interlayer was the material of choice to meet these tough challenges. SentryGlas® glass is a high-performance material with structural properties designed to withstand high winds and weight loads and to meet high security standards for blast mitigation. These properties allow SentryGlas® to be used in places where glass could never be used before.
The 54.08 mm (2-1/8 in) thick glass decking of the Skywalk, 3.048 m (10 ft) wide and 21.336 m (70 ft) deep, is a multilayer glass construction with four layers of SentryGlas® and five layers of Saint-Gobain Diamant glass.
Careful Analysis and Performance
Analysis conducted by Kuraray Glass Laminating Solutions (formerly DuPont), Saint-Gobain and structural engineering consultants demonstrate that the laminated glass floor can hold the weight of up to 120 people and maintain a top safety rating in high winds, at times reaching 160.93 km (100 miles) per hour.
High safety standards, clarity and attractive appearance are hallmarks of other installations incorporating SentryGlas®.