Richmond Olympic Oval

The Richmond Olympic Oval (French: Anneau olympique de Richmond), or the Richmond Oval is a facility in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. It was the venue of the speed skating events and the official Olympic anti-doping lab of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The total cost of the project was $178 million.


It has been 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 will see flying into Vancouver, and 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. It 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 was built to qualify the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Scale (LEED) Silver certification; for example, 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.

A distinctive feature of the Richmond Oval is its unique "wood wave" roof. This roof, which is one of the longest clear spans in North America, includes one million board feet of B.C. pine-beetle kill wood linked together in undulating sections to create a rippled effect. These one of a kind wood panels were designed by structural engineers Fast + Epp and constructed at the design build firm StructureCraft Builders Inc. in Delta, B.C. As a result, the Oval was given an award of excellence in architectural innovation by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada specifically for the innovative use of pine beetle-killed wood in its ceiling.

Outside, there is a sculptural environment designed by artist Janet Echelman with a pond filled with water that is collected from rain water falling on the roof, that will serve as a gathering space and water supply for irrigating surrounding landscapes, and for flushing toilets. A 91 metre (300 foot) boardwalk weaves through the pond and two 16 metre (52 foot) pedestrian bridges cross the pond to reach the Olympic Oval. Above the pond hangs the artist's "sky lantern" sculpture, Water Sky Garden. The sculpture is made of Tenara architectural fibre, supported by painted galvanized steel rings. The entire garden is approximately 7,000 m² (75,000 sq ft). A fountain designed as part of the public art program, which will include pieces designed that was created by local Musqueam artist, Susan Point, will re-oxygenate the pond. All hardwood trees that were cut during site preparation were salvaged and are currently stored, awaiting milling for building re-use in the panelling, flooring, furnishings or additional landscaping features.

The remainder of the building structure was designed by structural engineers Glotman.Simpson Consulting Engineers. Some items of interest included the design for a flat ice surface and the architectural piers used to support the roof structure.

The principal and lead project architect was Bob Johnston of Cannon Design, who was involved in the design of both the Calgary and Salt Lake City tracks. The Building Envelope consultant for this innovative project was Morrison Hershfield who worked closely with Cannon Design. Part of Morrison Hershfield’s role in the building envelope of this facility was the use of inventive cladding materials. Polycarbonate cladding (similar to a translucent plastic) was employed to cover very large wall areas. Traditional materials such as curtain wall, metal siding and composite metal cladding were also used.


After site preparation on November 17, 2006, the construction of the oval began. The Richmond Oval officially opened on December 12, 2008, with Pre-games events at the Oval being the 2008 and 2009 Canadian Single Distance Championships, the 2009 ISU World Single Distance Championships, and the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships.


Track records

* = Ireen Wüst also skated 1:56.89 at the 2010 Winter Olympics on February 21, 2010, winning a gold medal.


The Oval has had problems maintaining a competition-level ice surface during the Games. Two of the ice resurfacers malfunctioned and a third was apparently not properly prepared. To prevent further problems, a working ice resurfacer was brought in from Calgary before the men's 1.000 m.

Post Games

After the Olympics, The Oval will be converted to a multi-use sport facility that will include two Olympic-sized ice rinks, up to eight hardwood ball-sport courts, a gymnasium, a 200 m track, a rubberized turf area, and a high performance centre for elite athletes. The speed-skating oval will be covered with removable flooring and could still be used for competition. The Oval is intended to be the centrepiece of a new urban waterfront neighbourhood featuring a mix of residential, commercial and public amenity development. In an updated communication, the Richmond Olympic Oval reconfirmed that it "...will shed its long track speed skating configuration for a multi-sport layout that will accommodate ice, track, court, paddling and fitness users".

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