P.J. Hoffmaster State Park sits amid spectacular coastal sand dunes on Lake Michigan’s shore near Muskegon. The visitors’ favorite attraction is a 193–step wooden stairway leading to the top of the giant sand dunes overlooking Lake Michigan. The aging stairway needed replacement. Leaning posts, sagging stairs and rotting timbers caused safety and accessibility concerns.
Prein&Newhof worked with Hoffmaster State Park staff to design a longer-lasting replacement stairway and observation deck. Prein&Newhof reviewed several construction materials to decide which was the most cost effective and offer the longest life. The design team chose a galvanized steel substructure with treated timber framing.
Because of the site’s remoteness and severity, P&N’s design team researched construction material delivery methods to minimize damage to the critical dunes. Heavy woods and severe slopes limited access to the site. A small-wheeled vehicle was the only suitable equipment for installation and material delivery. The design team met with several contractors before taking bids to estimate construction costs and devise workable installation methods.
P&N teamed with a local landscape architect and arborist to meet critical dune permitting rules and integrate user-friendly features into the design. The team met with the State Park’s education staff, who asked to include landings and overlooks to allow visitors to maximize their educational experience. This project was completed in the summer of 2016, and now provides access to a Pure Michigan experience for park visitors for many years to come.