Richmond Olympic Oval

Richmond, B.C.
Construction Cost: $178 million (Canadian)
Area / Square Feet: 507,152
Occupancy Date: December 2008

The Richmond Olympic Oval is organized around three levels. On the second level, a clear-span arch structure of approximately 330 feet houses the 400-meter speed skating track and legacy sports. The lower level provides support functions and parking, while the upper level features a mezzanine for fitness programs, spectator seating and a hospitality lounge.

The heron, official symbol of the City of Richmond, is celebrated in a series of feathered roof spans that tail off the edge of the building, creating porches that serve as outdoor gathering spaces. Translucent polycarbonate walls on the Oval’s facades show a dynamic color variation across their length, evoking the colors of the nearby estuary while mediating the flow of sunlight to the interior. The glassed northern side provides spectacular views to the Fraser River and North Shore mountains.

The interior mitigates the facility’s large scale, reveals the myriad functions within and maintains continuity with the exterior. Locally harvested Douglas fir lumber formed into 15 composite-wood glulam arches — spanning 100 meters in length and carried on 30 concrete buttresses — comprises the main structure. The roof deck and its secondary structural panels between the arches are composed of regionally harvested, pine-beetle-killed wood from British Columbia’s devastated forests, allowing a beautiful surface to be produced at substantial cost savings. Glowing yellow and orange translucent glass sheathing highlights vertical circulation elements such as elevator towers and stairs, striking a contrast with large-scale concrete features.

Judge's Comments

Careful attention to detail shows through at every level, from the innovative structural system utilizing locally harvested pine-beetle-killed wood to the thoughtfully integrated mechanical systems to the reliefs casts into the concrete columns at the pedestrian level.
— Craig Bouck

The detailing is wonderful and succeeds in bringing a large facility to human scale.
— Nate Appleman

A magnificent response to a potentially uninteresting ice rink that was equally impressive in the graceful treatment of the large scale as well as the attention paid to the smallest details.
— Dwayne Brinkley