Featuring an oval measuring 400 metres around the inside edge of the track, the Richmond Olympic Oval contains seating for approximately 8,000 spectators and was home to long track speed skating during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The Oval, along with an adjoining waterfront plaza and park, is the centre piece of a major new city centre community being developed on 32 acres along the banks of the Fraser River.
As the structural engineers for the buildings base structure, a true challenge was designing a building with a level ice surface that would meet the Olympics’ exacting standards. The challenge arose because the site had notoriously unstable soils. Pressure from the 360,000 SF building had to be spread in almost perfect uniformity across the site’s boggy surface. Nearby buildings were known to settle as much as 200mm, but the level of the Richmond Olympic Oval could not vary any more than 3mm in 3000mm nor 20mm over its full length – a distance 4 times the length of a football field.
The solution is a concrete basement structure on a very large, 6-acre concrete foundation raft. The approach provides exceptionally good control over the levelness of the building. The raft raised the ice slab to above grade, which improved the interior environment, and it eliminated the need for expensive deep foundations.
The total cost of this multiple award-winning structure and related projects, including the waterfront park, plaza and parkade, was $178 million. Today, the 360,000 SF Richmond Olympic Oval has been transformed and is an international centre of excellence for sports, health and wellness, culture and entertainment.