The Skywalk at the Grand Canyon: 12 years later

This year is the 12th anniversary of Giroux Glass’ installation of the Skywalk, as well as our Las Vegas office’s 20th anniversary  – making it the ideal time for a first-ever visit for one excited group of visitors to the iconic landmark.  Giroux Glass ceo and president, Nataline Lomedico; Nataline’s son, Andre; Brian Peregrina, business development and client relations guru; and I joined National Glass Association’s Sara Neiswanger, and Andrew Haring, for a road trip. We each flew into Las Vegas from various airports to pile into a mini-van together for the five-hour, round-trip drive to beyond Peach Springs, Arizona.

The area over which it presides at Grand Canyon’s Western rim is owned and managed by the Hualapai Tribe. Our visit was arranged through the generous help of Grand Canyon Resort Corporation’s marketing specialist, Jerry Thompson.  He and Brian had arranged over the previous weeks for our group to tour and have Brian take photos, something not typically allowed without a permit.

Eager to see up close what I had seen previously only in photos and videos, the real-life view was even better than I had hoped. the Skywalk, is still a hugely popular tourist destination and a yet more impressive engineering feat to behold.

 

Each of the 46 glass panels used was custom-built to the highest standards for safety and clarity. The bridge deck consists of five composite layers of tempered glass, totaling nearly three inches thick. Each panel has a thin “sacrificial” layer of glass that can be removed and replaced by hand, if needed. We learned on this visit that a one time, a direct lightning strike caused each of those 46 panels to be replaced!

 

Each panel supports 100 pounds per square foot (equivalent to around 800 people), although a maximum of 120 people are allowed on the Skywalk at a time.  We accounted for six, on our visit.  Back in 2007, Giroux Glass began installing the 83,000 pounds of glass used to build the bridge and make it the prominent attraction and engineering masterpiece that it is today. The Skywalk is a 70-foot, U-shaped, cantilevered system (a structure that projects horizontally into space, supported on only one end) which hovers 4,000 feet over the Western rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

From L to R: Sara Neiswanger, Brian Peregrina, myself, Andre Lomedico, Nataline Lomedico and Andrew Haring

Nataline was visibly moved by the experience. “I can’t believe it’s been 12 years since the Skywalk project! I got teary eyed, due not just to its extraordinary beauty, but because I vividly remember the challenging hurdles. The harsh windy weather, the rugged roads, the glaziers’ time away from families – the entire installation! – called for the special team I’m talking about. Not once did I hear that it couldn’t be done. Our team came together then as it does, still, today.  I’m so proud of our unique resilience and “can do!” attitude. That is Giroux. We are Giroux.”

Here’s to many more anniversaries and crushed hurdles!  . . . and fun road trips with friends and colleagues!

Giroux Glass’ Brian Peregrina flexed his photographic skills on the visit.