by Dan McClelland
Editor's Note: this is the second article in our two-part series on our recent tours of the Big Tupper Ski Center and the tremendous amount of renovation and reconstruction work that has been underway there.
As part of the work preparing for the reopening of the Big Tupper Ski Center this summer by the Adirondack Club and Resort developers, there has been considerable focus on the center's large lodge.
The plan for this winter is to fix up the ground floor of the lodge to accommodate skiers with restrooms, warming areas with tables and chairs and the administrative and office area. While the pulse of the operation will be there, reconstruction will be in full swing on the second floor all winter long.
In anticipation of that the entire second floor has been gutted, revealing the large trusses and steel support beams after almost all the old partitions and ceiling materials have been removed.
For local skiers who know that space well, it now appears double in size, with everything gone.
Apparent too is how well built the lodge was. The original A-frame portion of the lodge with its large, laminated and open trusses is in excellent shape. The large area which was later added to accommodate a larger cafeteria, dining room and bar appears to be also very well built with large steel I-beams and columns supporting 50 foot long manufactured trusses. All that now is visible with the ceiliings and sheet rock and board wall coverings gone.
“We encountered no surprises when we tore everything out. The lodge was extremely well built!” Tom Lawson told us during our second visit to the place on August 24.
Right now work crews of carpenters- most of them local- are buttoning up the exterior of the lodge building for winter, when the work will move inside.
A number of the existing windows on the parking lot side had been reframed in the anticipation of the arrival of many new windows this week and next. New window openings have also been cut into to that side.
New windows are also coming for the others sides of the lodge, to replace old or broken ones. Some window openings have been temporarily covered with sheets of plywood.
“Our goal for this winter is to get the ski center back open for the kids!” Mr. Lawson said that day.
The second floor of the large lodge- which measures about 9,000 square feet- was opened up to give the engineers and architects who are doing its redesign a good look at what they are working with, he explained.
The overall plan for that space, however, is to keep it entirely open.
For the years of its operation a large part of the second floor was hidden from public view by the partitions, behind which were storage and operational area for the cafeteria and bar.
That day Jill Trudeau agreed with us that the second floor seems double in size now. Jill is the ACR's administrative assistant.
“It's very light and airy and the new design will maintain that. The whole idea is to keep it open,” she explained.
The only partitions remaining for now are those which cordoned off the old bar area. They'll be coming out soon.
Jill said that at least 20 dump truck loads of old building materials have been removed from the second floor area so far.
“Right now we've taken it down to its skeleton to begin the renewal,” added Tom. “When its done you'll be able to see across the entire second floor of the building, for the most part!”
At both ends of the existing lodge 30 foot lonog two story entrance additions are planned.
Mr. Lawson said at each end of the existing lodge will be large stone twin fireplaces- each with two openings. One opening will face into the existing lodge and one into the new addition, in each case.
Stone masons will be on site this winter, with all the carpenters, to tackle the construction of those massive fireplaces.
The second floor, like the ground floor, will also see all new restrooms.
The ceilings on the second floor will all be nine or ten feet high, to add to the openness.
The floor between the two floors is all reinforced concrete. It's very sturdy and in great shape. To bring everything exactly level, however, a shallow layer of special concrete coating may be applied over the winter, Mr. Lawson expects.
As to the specifics of where the cafeteria, bar and dining rooms will be on the second floor, that's still to be decided, based on what the engineers and architects recommend, he said. “At this point the design is evolving day by day!”
In the original plans for the Adirondack Club and Resort, the lodge was going to be replaced with a building in the style of a great camp.
Those plans have changed, at least for now. “We like the lodge and we think we can transform it into a place which skiers will really enjoy. It sits where it belongs so why replace it?”
Adding to the openness of the second floor, new entrance areas off the slopes will all be walled in glass for the maximum amount of natural light streaming into the interior, he explained.
The staircase that connects the two floors will see new iron wrought railings, rather that solid half-walls, as part of the winter construction work.
The lodge will be getting a new metal roof, some of it this fall and some next construction season. Each metal piece used will be the entire length of the roof side, so there will be no overlapping.
A patio area with fire pits is also planned in front of the lodge next summer.
“When we're done I think people will be amazed,” he said with a smile.
One of the local firms which will be working inside the lodge this winter will be CWM Construction (Charlie Madore and Jason Roberge), which is currently finishing an complete overhaul of the chairlift No. 2 off-boarding station.
Tom and Jill both figure there's going to be a lot of work for local and area tradesmen inside the lodge this winter.
“From the start we've been trying to hire locally,” noted the administrative assistant.
In related Big Tupper news Tom Lawson recently met with ski patrol director Tom Sciacca and some of his volunteers. According to Mr. Sciacca everything is set to go for their vital safety and rescue services this coming season.
New trusses for the old ski patrol building, which currently has a flat roof, are expected to arrive soon and that building will have its new roof this fall.
On the day of our last visit four large and unsightly utility poles near the ski patrol building were removed, after Tip Top Electric technicians cut off the electricity to them.