Knowledge CentreTechnical Resources SearchConference PapersDesign and Construction of the Capilano Cliffwalk

Design and Construction of the Capilano Cliffwalk


The Cliffwalk at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in North Vancouver truly is a structure that hangs off a cliff. The 213 m long, 0.5 m wide steel walkway with timber decking is cantilevered some 3 m from the face of the cliff and considered to be the first of its kind in the world. It will provide visitors access to previously undreamed areas of the park. Areas that historically only experienced rock climbers would be able to enjoy plus the structure acts as a medium for the education of visitors to the water/erosion cycle through a series of interactive displays. It consists of a series of 8 bridges, 5 stairs, 7 platforms (two with glass decks) and a cable supported curved bridge that traverse the eastern face of the Capilano Canyon and only require 11 sq. m of foundation area. The construction planning and design of the structure was truly a collaborative effort, with input at the design stage from the surveyors, constructor, owner, steel fabricator and multiple engineering disciplines. The design process started with a field reconnaissance of the rock face by rappelling to determine best probable foundation locations and overall route location, all while accounting for tree locations. Suitable locations for foundations were established based on visual observations of the rock face. A total of 510 m of rock anchors of three different types were used. A total of 12 distinct alignments were designed prior to finalizing the alignment. Rock fall risk management was identified as an early design constraint. To mitigate pedestrian exposure to any stray rock fall, the majority of the walkway is cantilevered from the rock face by 3.0 m. Rock management is also provided by the construction of a reinforced soil slope at the crest of the cliff, stabilizing the cliff face with rock bolts and the construction of rock fencing wherever the field testing of rock trajectories indicated. The fabrication/erection technique developed for the project was said to be ground breaking by the steel fabricator. The detailing of the geometry of all the steel work was based on the surveyed locations of the foundation base plates that were installed and then surveyed in the field. The field coordinates of the foundation plates were then used to define the geometry using Prosteel, a 3D steel detailing program, without the ability to dry fit any pieces in the shop. The final misclosure of the last joint in the 213 m long run was only 15 mm. Construction access was very limited and the original design needed to limit the weight of individual members to allow erection using only manpower, with only the curved, cable supported steel bridge and a couple of the straight bridge segments requiring erection with a small crane. 

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Kent LaRose
Scott Loptson
Duncan C. Wyllie
Stuart Masterson