Blog: Richmond Olympic Oval In Vancouver

by | 15. Nov 2012


Photo: Peter Rasmussen

This September we visited Vancouver and the impressive Richmond Olympic Oval, which was built for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2010, and designed by Cannon Design. It originally housing a long speed skating track, but was planned with an eye to the future, so it would be used regularly after the Winter Games. Thus a lot of improvements have been added to the original building, offering a huge number and variety of sports facilities: including 2 Olympic-sized ice rinks, 18 badminton courts, 16 international-sized table tennis tables, and all kinds of children’s’ summer sport camps, events and programs.


Photo: Peter Rasmussen

The distinctive feature of the Richmond Oval is its unique “wood wave” roof. The roof is made of wood, which was attacked by “mountain pine” beetle and would have been discarded, if not used for building. The one-of-a-kind wood panels were designed by structural engineers Fast + Epp , and constructed at the design build firm StructureCraft Builders Inc. The Oval received an award of excellence in architectural innovation from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, specifically for its innovative use of the “beetle-killed” pinewood in its ceiling.

The construction consists of arches spanning 100 meters, with a triangular hollow section that hides sprinklers, electrical wiring and ventilation. The bows are built of steel and wood, arranged in a pattern that allows acoustic regulation of the hall.


Photo: Peter Rasmussen

Entering the hall, one is met with high-energy activity everywhere: Ice hockey, speed skating, table tennis, wheelchair rugby, climbing, cheerleading, fitness and much more. The hall’s design has a bird and fish theme, inspired by the nearby river wildlife. Working out in the enormous fitness center, people have stunning views over the North Shore Mountains and Fraser River.

Being one of the world’s front-runners in sustainable urban development, Vancouver has an ambition to become the greenest city in the world in 2020. Although it is only LEED Silver certified (unlike other buildings in Vancouver built after July 2010, which are Gold certified), the Richmond Olympic Oval still offers a number of sustainable solutions: e.g. the waste heat from the refrigeration systems cooling the skate lanes is reused to heat the spectator rows and other areas of the hall.


Photo: Peter Rasmussen

The outdoor sculptural environment surrounding the Olympic Oval is also well worth a visit. Designed by artist Janet Echelman, it includes a pond filled with rainwater harvested from the roof. The water serves as a gathering space and water supply for irrigation of the surrounding landscapes, and is also used for flushing toilets in the building.

More information on Richmond Olympic Oval