Last week I wrote about the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler Village.
This week I would like to focus on an extraordinary Olympic structure: the Olympic Oval in Richmond, B.C. hosting the 2010 Olympics speed skating.
The building is a unique structure incorporating native design and some very unusual building materials.
Richmond Oval was built on a site beside the Fraser River. From the air it is the first Olympic venue visitors see flying into Vancouver. The roof takes the stylized native shape of a heron’s wing – a tribute to the Salish First Nation and the large wading bird that cohabited the riverbank when the first Europeans made contact some 230 years ago.
The structure contains more than a half a million square feet of space in order to accommodate 8,000 spectators. The Oval qualified for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Scale (LEED) Silver certification; for example excess heat from ice-making and rainwater that falls on the arching roof are captured for use in the building.
The distinctive feature of the Richmond Oval is its unique “wood wave” roof. This roof, which at 6.5 acres is the longest wooden roof in the world, includes one million board feet of B.C. pine-beetle kill wood linked together in undulating sections to create a rippled effect. These one of a kind wood panels were designed by structural engineers Fast + Epp.
“We collaborated on producing not only a fully integrated and multi-faceted sustainable design, but one that opens up new possibilities for the use of pine-beetle kill wood which is proven to be a unique, durable and aesthetically beautiful material.”
“Pine-beetle kill wood must be harvested rapidly in order to preserve its structural integrity,” said partner Gerald Epp.
As a result Cannon Design of Vancouver was given an award of excellence in architectural innovation by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada specifically for innovative use of pine beetle-killed wood in its ceiling.
For the structural design of the Oval, Fast + Epp won the top award for a sports or leisure structure by the Institution of Structural Engineers based in London.
Other aspects of the building were inspired by Canada’s native wildlife.
“Some of the initial concepts that we had in developing the overall form of the roof had to do with bringing a lot of elements of fluid motion, reaching back to cores like the heron, which is an indigenous and common species in the Vancouver area,” said Peter McCarthy, one of the designers working for Cannon. “It”s sort of graceful and fluid motion in flight and to walk in and see it constructed in this immense scale was pretty fantastic.”
Outside there is a sculptural environment designed by artist Janet Echelman – a pond filled with rainwater that is collected from the roof. It serves as a gathering space and water supply for irrigating surrounding landscapes and for flushing toilets. Above the pond hangs the artist’s “sky lantern” sculpture: Water Sky Garden. The sculpture is made of Tenara architectural fibre, supported by painted galvanized steel rings.
A fountain designed as part of the public art program will include pieces created by local Musqueam artist: Susan Point which will also re-oxygenate the pond.
Richmond Oval – an altogether awe-inspiring design.
Indigenous Influence on Olympic Designs – Part II