Soaring Roof Highlights Progress Towards 2010

Vancouver, Canada - When champions mount the podium and their national flags ascend as their anthems play, all eyes will see another winner, the giant arches that support the sweeping six-acre roof rising 100 metres over the ice.

The Richmond Olympic Oval for speed skating opened to great acclaim earler this month, but the limelight was stolen by the dramatic and original structural design of the roof, designed by the Vancouver firm of Fast & Epp.

Gerald Epp of Fast and Epp, one of the designers of the roof, said “The arches are true composite wood/steel. The pair of glulam beams (splayed in a vee) are 175 mm thick and 1,700 mm deep, with a steel “skating blade” at bottom and linking steel members at top, both heavily screwed to the glulam to create the composite action. The steel helps primarily to handle the bending due to unbalanced snow loading.” The arches are among the largest clear span structures in the world. 

Assembled in three sections on the site and lifted into place by a special crane from Japan, the arches and roofincorporate the equivalent of 6,000 trees of pine-beetle kill wood. Linking the arches are large “Wood Wave” panels 14 metres wide designed and built by StructureCraft/Fast and Epp.

According to Epp, the wood panels “satisfies structural, acoustic and fire protection constraints, in addition to the interesting aesthetic properties it provides.”  Along the north side of the building the roof lifts and reveals large windows looking onto the North Shore mountains.

Echoing a view of many that the Oval will become the enduring symbol of the 2010 Games, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell noted during the official opening ceremonies that “This world-class sporting facility is a legacy not only of the Olympics, but also of the innovation of British Columbia’s construction and forest industries. The iconic design of the ’wood wave’ roof is made from pine beetle enhanced wood. Like the Bird’s Nest stadium or the Water Cube in Beijing, the Richmond Oval will be a lasting symbol, known around the world.”

The provincial government is hoping that more building designers will follow the Oval’s example in using the pine-killed wood as a sustainable design strategy. By 2007 the beetle infestation had ravaged over 13 million hectares of forest in B.C. alone. The wood turns red in the first year of infestation, and then takes on a blue-grey tinge.

The Oval will host its first major speed skating competition, the Canadian Single Distance Championships, featuring top skaters from Canada’s national team from December 27-31, 2008. The World Single Distance Championships, an official sport event for the 2010 Games, will be hosted at the Oval from March 12-15, 2009.

During the pre-Games period, the 400-metre speed skating track will be complimented by a hardwood court area, large enough to accommodate up to four full-sized basketball courts. Also available will be specialized fitness studios for rowing and spinning, and targeted resistance programs. A general fitness centre and a variety of multi-activity rooms will also be among the amenities available in the Oval when it opens. The Oval contains two international size ice rinks, eight gymnasiums, a 200 metre running track and 23,000 square foot fitness centre. Aside from its use during the Games, the Oval will be used by the public as a community centre. The building cost $178 million, of which the roof cost $14 million.

For More Information: Canadian Consulting Engineer

Source 2: Government of British Columbia

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