The Richmond Olympic Oval is major venue of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Conceived by Cannon Design to be one of the world’s largest speed-skating facilities, the Oval displays a massive wood wave roof encompassing 6.5 acres. This innovative roof system is one of the longest clear spans in North America, and built almost entirely from wood.
The building is mainly composed of a 33,000-m2 oval. For the 2010 Olympic Games, It will house a 400-metre speed skating track with a capacity for approximately 8,000 guests. After the Games, the facility will be converted to multipurpose sports use. The main sports hall will become an indoor activity area divided into three sections: ice, court and track and field. The ice section will have two ice rinks.
The court section will be a combination hardwood and rubber surface playing area capable of hosting a wide variety of sports, while the track and field section will have a rubberized turf surface that will be home to an indoor running track and other sports. The space will be convertible to different configurations that allow the facility to be used for a combination of ice and dry sports as demand warrants, including occasional reconfiguration for major short track and long track speed skating events.
“The architectural design of the Richmond Olympic Oval emanates from several poetic images based in the cultural history of the site and the surrounding geography" Says Larry Lodhora of Cannon Design. "For example, the articulation of the Oval roof evolved from the image of the Heron being a native bird in that community. The roof has a gentle curve that peels off on the north side of the facility, emulating the wing of a heron with its individual feather tips extending beyond the base wood truss structure. This allows for the opening of the facility's interior to a view of the north shore mountains and the Fraser River at the North Plaza.”
The Oval is designed to qualify for LEED Silver certification, through some innovative eco-friendly initiatives:
• Capturing heat energy required in making ice (the speed-skating oval surface is roughly equivalent to six international hockey rinks) and using it elsewhere in the building. The heat energy may also be used to provide low-cost heating and cooling for the urban neighborhood being created around the building.
• Collecting rainwater from the building’s roof and using it to help meet the building’s water needs – much of it will flow into the building’s pipes to supplement toilet flushing and the rest will be directed into a picturesque pond being built in front of the Oval. (The storm water collection system will also incorporate a dramatic public art project, created by internationally acclaimed Musqueam artist Susan Point.)
• Other economic and environmentally sensitive approaches include placing the building back from the Fraser River foreshore, preserving trees along Hollybridge Canal, diverting recyclable construction materials away from the landfill and incorporating the use of healthier building materials, such as wood laminates and sealants.
As mentioned earlier, the building’s superstructure is constructed almost entirely from wood. It is made up of glulam beam arches and prefabricated one-of-a-kind wood wave panels. Throughout the design phase, two roof options were developed: the innovative but untested WoodWave system, and a more conventional steel-deck-on-glulam purlin system. Both options used the primary wood-steel arches to span the almost 330 ft (100 m) width of the main hall. While both the client and the design team favoured wood, a number of technical and economic questions had to be answered prior to a final decision being made.
The wood wave roof panel system design features hollow, triangular-shaped composite wood-steel arches, which span approximately 100 meters and conceal mechanical, electrical and plumbing services. Spanning the 13 meters between arches are 452 prefabricated ‘WoodWave’ Structural Panels consisting of ordinary 2x4s arranged geometrically to optimize both structural and acoustic efficiency. Its name comes from the fact it is built completely of lumber and plywood fastened together in a wave-like form to serve as a structural roof, as a finished ceiling and as a noise-reducing panel.
In total, the roof system uses about one million board feet of Douglas-fir lam-stock lumber in the glulam beams, another one million board feet of 2x4 spruce-pine-fir commodity dimension lumber – primarily lumber affected by the mountain pine beetle infestation in B.C.’s Interior – and about 19,000 sheets of four-foot-by-eight-foot Douglas-fir plywood in the roof panels. The roof is believed to be the largest surface ever-covered in beetle-affected wood – showing that the wood remains structurally sound and attractive.