Home      About      Contact      Submit an Item      
Passive    PV    Homes    Commercial    Wind    Projects    DIY    Resources    Tools    Materials    
Watch Highline Park NYC Thumbnail

Highline Park NYC Video

Watch Highline Park Design Thumbnail

Highline Park Fly-Through Animation Design Video

Watch Highline Park Design Thumbnail

Highline Park Design Video





If you have or know a solar project, please submit it to us for consideration as a featured project using Submit an Item. http://www.solaripedia.com/302/submit-an-item.html


Richmond Oval Avoids Solar Gain (Canada)

Credits: ©2010 Cannon Design

The immense size of the building, the site constraints, and above all the requirements to precisely maintain indoor temperature and humidity to provide optimal conditions for speed ice skating limited the range of possibilities for solar orientation, and made the design of the envelope - especially the large roof - particularly critical. Designed to meet both Green Globes and LEED green building standards, the Richmond Oval became a showpiece for environmental architecture and construction during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in British Columbia, Canada. The "wood wave" roof uses a million board feet of lumber and 19,000 sheets of plywood, as well as steel. Virtually all of the lumber used in the roof framing was harvested from certified forests in the interior of British Columbia

that have been adversely affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle. (See the excellent report below for details: Richmond Oval Report)


Richmond Oval Night Struts

The Richmond Oval speed skating facility for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in British Columbia, Canada. ©2010 Cannon Design

Olympic Hero
Designed for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, The Richmond Oval took silver before the competitions began.


KJ Field, Eco-Structure Magazine

Any 355,000-square-foot facility will have environmental impacts. The sheer size alone implies a drain on materials, natural resources, and local ecosystems. The Richmond Olympic Oval offers a new slant on large-scale design, however, as the speed skating venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, earned LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its green building measures.

“With such a large footprint, we tried to make it a showcase of sustainable practices,” asserts Ted Townsend, senior manager, corporate communications for the City of Richmond, British Columbia. “We wanted others to see that size does not have to impede good environmental choices.”

Grappling with the long-term viability of a showcase building on a 32-acre site also posed questions about sustainability. During the city’s due diligence process, officials from past Olympic sites around the world with vacant buildings sounded a warning: Don’t make the same mistake. Build a venue that will meet your community’s needs.

The project team responded with a design that preserves delicate surroundings, reflects the area’s culture, finds innovative ways to leverage natural resources, and provides a neighborhood amenity. Marion LaRue, principal in the Vancouver office of Cannon Design, says decisions grew from a holistic perspective. “We were not simply focused on achieving LEED credits. We designed and built the Oval to be a legacy building that would contribute to the community and sustain itself financially after the games.”

Set between the Fraser River foreshore and the Hollybridge Canal estuary, the team carefully positioned the building a significant distance away from the two waterways. Substantial views from inside the structure and from the Oval’s large plaza encourage visitors to enjoy the scenery without disturbing it. Because the water table runs just 3 feet below ground, the team installed pumps and dewatering ponds during construction to prevent any runoff from entering the surroundings. The team also maintained native plants and habitats.

Stormwater runoff from the expansive 6.5-acre roof traces a visible path across the building through sculpture-embossed channels on 15 concrete buttresses on the building’s north side. These sculptured reliefs on the buttresses, designed by Musqueam artist Susan Point, include herons, fish, and First Nations motifs to reflect the site’s cultural significance—Vancouver is located in traditional territory of the Musqueam people, one of Canada’s First Nations tribes. Some of the water runoff is directed into the building for reuse in toilets. The rest collects in a detention pond filled with native marsh plants that filter the water for on-site irrigation and improve the quality of water released into the canal. The pond also is a visual attraction.

“The stormwater management system is a prime example of the level of thought that went into each aspect of this project,” Townsend says. “Whenever a feature was incorporated for functionality, the team asked, ‘How can we make it sustainable, multifunctional, artistic, aesthetically pleasing?”

Designers programmed the space to meet the needs of an 8,000-guest Olympic sports arena but maintained flexibility to serve the neighborhood both pre- and post-Olympics. Sitting two stories above ground, the building includes a basement parking garage. The facility opened to the public in December 2008 as a fitness center, multipurpose space, and a venue for competitions.

Trees that were felled to make way for the project’s construction were repurposed into wood ceilings and paneling. The Oval’s paints, carpets, adhesives, sealants, and composite wood are low in volatile organic compounds. Before the Olympics, crews added television cameras and upgraded lighting. Spaces were converted into team and training rooms for the athletes, meeting spaces, generous media mix zones, support facilities for spectators, and an anti-doping laboratory. The sports hall, with the 1,300-foot-long speed skating track, spans across the top floor.

Converting water into ice for a skating track of that size requires a lot of energy. To recapture heat from the compressors used to cool the ice, the design team installed heat exchangers. Water-filled pipes are heated by hot air expended from the compressors. The building’s forced-air heating system then draws heat from the pipes and circulates it to the building’s offices and multipurpose spaces. According to LaRue, after warming the building, the excess heat still could potentially provide energy for approximately 700 homes.

In the wake of the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Richmond Oval will experience a rebirth as an urban catalyst and community center, and the possibility of using the building as part of a district-heating strategy is one that the city hopes to make a future reality. The Oval sits on one-third of a city-owned site that is slated for waterfront community development, and the $170-million ($178-million CAD) project’s flexible design will allow it to become the development’s focal point. The speed-skating rink will be converted into two ice rinks, a track and field area, and a court area featuring hardwood and rubber flooring, and overall the structure will transition into a multisport and wellness facility that offers indoor/outdoor recreational activities, shopping, and services.

KJ Fields writes about sustainable architecture from Portland, Ore.

Staggering Effects
One of the largest clearspans in North America, the Richmond Oval roof recycles lumber damaged by a local beetle infestation.

One of the most stunning aspects of the Richmond Oval is its roof. A close collaboration between Cannon Design; Fast + Epp Structural Engineers out of Vancouver, British Columbia; and StructureCraft Builders in Delta, British Columbia, led to an aesthetic and engineering marvel that covers 6.5 acres (about four and a half football fields). Not only is the $15.2-million ($16-million CAD) roof one of the longest clear spans in North America, it is assembled with 1 million board feet of lumber from trees destroyed by mountain pine beetle (MPB) infestation.

Approximately 35.8 million acres of British Columbia’s forest has been affected by MPB infestation. The decomposing trees emit the carbon stored in the wood into the atmosphere, which makes greenhouse gases a concern and an issue that support harvest and use of the wood.

Architecturally, the curving roof recalls a heron’s wing—the City of Richmond’s official symbol. Fast + Epp designed the 330-foot glulam and steel arches that spring from the massive concrete buttresses and stretch across the vaulted six-acre space every 47 feet. StructureCraft spanned across the gaps between the arches by turning common 2x4 lumber into a novel lightweight system called the WoodWave Structural Panel.

“Converting a 2x4 into a truss that can span 40 feet required a few engineering innovations,” explains Brian Woudstra, StructureCraft’s pre-construction manager, "but it helped us find a great way to use this abundant wood."

StructureCraft created 452 WoodWave roof panels for the facility by placing 2x4s on edge. The designers spliced the panels together to form “strands,” vertically staggered them to increase their depth, and fastened them together to create 2.5-foot-deep, 4-foot-wide, 42-foot-long V-shaped “beams.” The V-shaped voids hold the sprinkler system and a noncombustible black rockwool liner that offers acoustic absorption. Each “V” was pressed into an arch, nailed together, and held in position with a steel tension tie. Each is fastened to its neighbors with a plywood “skin.” The resulting staggered wood pattern marked by strategically located black cavities offers spectators and athletes a view of a structure that carries the loads, reduces the noise, and offers an impressive overhead display.

From Cannon Design, project architect:
The Richmond Oval skating arena was built on a site beside the Fraser River, a few blocks away from Lansdowne Station on the Canada Line. From the air, it is the first Olympic venue many visitors saw flying into Vancouver, British Columbia, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. 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 at first European contact 230 years ago. The Oval is a 33,750 m² facility, including a 20,000 m² main floor that includes a 400 m refrigerated track. It can accommodate 8,000 spectators. The Oval's refrigeration plant is designed to heat other areas of the building through the utilization of what is otherwise waste heat from cooling the ice surface.

Architectural Award
The Oval was honored with the 2009 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Award of Excellence for Innovation and the Sustainability Star, awarded by the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Organizing Committee in recognition of the innovation Games partners and sponsors have demonstrated in sustainable design.

Emphasizing lightness, transparency, and translucency, the interiors of the Richmond Olympic Oval mitigate its large scale, reflecting the openness, accessibility and fun that lie at its conception. Located on the Richmond waterfront, the Oval is designed as a “legacy” or dual-use building – speed skating venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and as an International Centre of Excellence for Sports and Wellness for community uses.

The Oval is organized around three levels. On the second level, a clear-span arch structure of approximately 330 ft (100m) that houses the 400 m speed skating track and the legacy sports. The lower level provides support functions and parking, and the upper level - a mezzanine for fitness programs, spectator seating and hospitality lounge. The ice slab can be configured to support sport, court and track & field uses, hockey and skating, other recreation as well as public events.

Innovative features include the use of one million board feet of pine-beetle-killed dimensional lumber that creates a beautiful structural canopy; composite glulam beams clear-spanning the activity space creatively integrated with the distinctive roof deck; the seamless integration of building systems and infrastructure with the structure; and the manner in which the building’s dual function provides flexibility, adaptability and conversion.

NBC Olympics Coverage
Green Richmond Oval lives up to expectations
Environmentally-friendly arena is considered the signature venue of the Games
VANCOUVER (Reuters) -- Gold medals are not handed out for architectural design, but the environmentally friendly speed skating arena built for the Vancouver Olympics is being called a winner by the bladed athletes who will compete there this month.

The Richmond Olympic Oval, considered the signature building of the Games, contains salvaged wood damaged by a pine-beetle infestation and has a massive roof shaped like a wave.

"We compete in some nice ovals that have been built as Olympic facilities in the past," defending 5000m champion Chad Hedrick of the United States told Reuters. "This one here obviously outdoes all of them. They went big on this.

"Being an Olympian, the best part is walking in and feeling like you're being treated special, feeling like you've really made it to the big time. When you walk in here you definitely feel that way.

Completed just over a year ago, the $178 million building that sits along the Fraser River in Richmond, just outside downtown Vancouver, is striking on the outside, spectacular inside and a model environmental sustainability.

The most distinctive external element is the roof, designed in a wave formation that is one of the world's largest clearspan wooden structures.

Inside, 15 soaring wooden arches span a wooden ceiling joined in a way that creates a ripple effect and gives the feel of being sheltered by a massive heron's wing, the city's official symbol.

"Walking into the oval at Richmond is amazing. You just get really inspired. It's beautiful looking. It's very motivating to be there. It's just a great place," 1994 triple gold medal winner Johann Olav Koss of Norway told Reuters on Thursday.

"It doesn't feel like an ice rink because it has a wooden ceiling, so that is beautiful," Danish speed skater Cathrine Grage said.

Rainwater collected
Blue spectator seats ring the 400m track to accommodate a crowd of 7,600 for the Games competitions. The design was executed with close attention to the environment.

The ceiling was made with a million board feet of pine beetle-infested wood that otherwise would have gone to waste, and wood cleared from the six-acre site before construction began was used to make benches in the team dressing rooms.

Rainwater running off the distinctive roof is collected in a pond for irrigation and flushing the facility's toilets, and the oval's refrigeration plant uses a waste heat recovery system to heat areas of the building that will be turned into a multi-sport facility and exercise centre after the Games.

"It's just absolutely amazing, like nothing I've ever seen," said Australian skater Sophie Muir.

"The place is just beautiful in the way they've set it up to be quite environmentally friendly, which scores brownie points in my books."

The Oval Roof
By: Katie Gerfen, Cannon Design - 

Olympic speed skating has been in the limelight recently, most notably for the U.S. team’s funding shortfall and its partnership with fundraising powerhouse Stephen Colbert. But when skaters take to the ice this month in the race for gold, they will be competing for air time with the architectural star of the show: the soaring roof of the Richmond Oval skating complex. Designed by the Vancouver, British Columbia, office of Cannon Design, the 512,000-square-foot facility houses a 400-meter parabolic track and seating for 8,000 tucked under a roof structure that spans 328 feet.

The 60-foot-high roof is supported by 15 glulam arches—designed with structural engineers Fast + Epp—spaced every 47½ feet along the length of the building. The arches are made of two layers of Douglas fir glulam sandwiched around steel ribbing reinforcement. A resulting plenum in each arch becomes part of a concealed network of HVAC distribution points. And that is not the only thing hidden from view: Cannon worked with StructureCraft to design and build a series of 12-foot-by-43-foot ribbed wooden panels that span the space between the arches and mask sprinklers, lighting, and other systems from view. “It is a unique thing to imagine,” Larry Podura, a vice president at Cannon, says. “It necessitated having plumbers and fire contractors move into the fabrication shop and collaborate. But it cleans the visual field.” Each 52-inch-thick panel has three triangular ribs that run perpendicular to the spanning arches. There are 31 panels between every set of parallel arches in the roof, each panel weighing 3,500 pounds.

The decision to use wood instead of a standard perforated decking was an easy one. “At the very beginning, there was a strong desire to express something of the regional character of our part of the world, and wood is an attractive, sustainable, warm material that we all agreed would be wonderful to integrate,” Podura said. Each ribbed panel is clad in standard 2x4 plywood, milled from trees reclaimed from the forest floor—victims of the insidious pine beetle that decimated much of the local tree stock. There are nearly 1 million board feet of this wood—tinged slightly blue as a result of the infestation—in the roof structure. The 2x4s are staggered, and the resulting openings (which look like linear perforations) expose acoustical material to help dampen sound in the arena.

After the medals were handed out and the camera crews packed their bags, the Richmond Oval was not left to lie fallow. It found new life as a community center with room for basketball, badminton, and, of course, ice skating. The retrofitting process is expected to be completed near the end of 2010.

Relevant book:

Architecture for Sport



  Richmond Oval Case Study (3,416 kb)

  Richmond Oval Report low rez (2,959 kb)

  Richmond Oval Sustainability (178 kb)

  Richmond Oval Wood Fact Sheet (1,620 kb)


Richmond Oval Article (Eco-Structure)

Cannon Design (Global)

Richmond Oval Energy Tracker

Richmond Oval Designers Video