Richmond Olympic Oval


6111 River Road

Richmond, British Columbia


Content Type
  • Building
Completion date
December 2008
Site/ Building area
52,600 m2/ 47,500 m2
Certifications & Awards
  • LEED Canada for New Construction and Major Renovations 1 Silver
  • VANOC Sustainability Star
  • Globe Foundation and World Green Building Council Green Building Practices Award
  • BC Wood WORKS/Canadian Wood Council Institutional Design Award
  • Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Innovation in Architecture Award of Excellence
  • 2009 Institution of Structural Engineers Award for Sports or Leisure Structures
  • Targeting CaGBC LEED® Silver certification
Project Team
  • Owner: City of Richmond
  • Operator: Richmond Oval Corporation
  • Lead Architect: Cannon Design
  • Project Design: Glotman Simpson Structural Engineers
  • Project Manager: MHPM Project Managers
  • Structural Engineers: Fast & Epp Structural Engineers
  • Construction Management: Dominion Fairmile Construction Ltd.
  • Funders: Government of Canada; Government of British Columbia; City of Richmond


Key Sustainability Features

  • Roof constructed from pine-beetle infested wood: sourced and fabricated in British Columbia
  • Energy-efficient waste heat recapture system
  • Innovative rainwater collection, cleaning and recycling system: reduces potable water consumption by 20-30%

The Richmond Olympic Oval is located along the banks of the Fraser River in Richmond. Its eye-catching roof showcases sustainable and innovative wood engineering designed by British Columbia companies.


The six-acre wood roof structure sweeps over the Oval in graceful lines, retracing the stylized image of a flying heron-- a bird with both cultural and ecological importance in the region. The roof is made from wood salvaged from pine-beetle infested forests in British Columbia. Derived from a renewable resource, the solid sawn lumber can be processed in an energy-efficient manner without toxic by-products. If incorporated into buildings, wood salvaged from pine-beetle infested forests will continue to store carbon and delay the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The total potential carbon benefit of the Oval over its anticipated lifespan is 8,800 metric tonnes, or the equivalent of taking 1,600 cars off the road.

An innovative stormwater system directs rainwater from the roof into the building to supplement toilet flushing. The remainder flows into a rainfall collection pond in front of the Oval where it is stored, cleaned, and used to irrigate surrounding trees and landscaping. Marsh plants in the rainfall collection pond filter the water naturally. Fountains, featuring original Coast Salish designs by Musqueam First Nation artist Susan Point, aerate the pond to facilitate the oxidation of dissolved metals like iron. This process prevents water from stagnating and allows a relatively natural aquatic ecosystem to evolve and flourish. The rainwater system is intended to remove 80 percent of suspended solids from the water and reduce phosphorous levels by 40 percent while reducing potable water use by 20-30 percent.

During construction, a number of mature hardwood trees had to be removed from the site. These trees were milled locally and used for the benches in change rooms, as well as paneling in the interior of the facility. Cuttings from the trees were taken and propagated in a nearby nursery and have now been replanted.

Targeting LEED Silver certification, the Richmond Olympic Oval employs an energy recovery system that captures and reuses waste heat from ice making for other uses in the building. The energy management of the building was challenging to develop, due to the large ice surface combined with the need for strictly controlled temperature and humidity conditions. This limited the range of possibilities for solar orientation and placed critical importance on the design of the building envelope. The mechanical team sought to maximize the re-use of energy through heat recovery from the ventilation and ice-making system, resulting in the use of waste heat for pre-heating domestic hot water. If desired, the system can be adapted to be served by a geothermal source or a district energy system.

Flexibility and adaptability are also incorporated into the design of the ventilation system, in which ventilation air is distributed with directional and adjustable nozzles. This will support future reconfigurations of the main space without the need for internal partitions or significant adjustments to the mechanical system.


The Oval's innovative roof panel system, The WoodWave©, is constructed from sawn lumber and plywood fastened together in a wave-like shape and pushes previously perceived limits of using sawn lumber. The system combines structural support with an aesthetic ceiling and noise-dampening panels. It is anticipated that this beautiful showcase of pine-beetle wood will encourage its use well beyond the borders of British Columbia or even Canada, thereby creating enhanced economic opportunities for forestry-dependent communities in British Columbia.

"Green" technologies and products involved in the construction of this project include the following:

  • Roof design and engineering by Fast + Epp Structural Engineers (Vancouver, BC)
  • Glulam and roof support poles by Structurlam (Penticton, BC)
  • Steel by George Third and Sons (originally a Vancouver-based family business founded in 1910 that was acquired by Empire Industries Ltd. (a consolidator of structural steel fabrication and installation industry)
  • High-span sloped curtainwall by Advanced Glazing Systems (Burnaby, BC)
  • Accumet sidings by Flynn Canada Ltd
  • WoodWave© roof panel system conceived and engineered by StructureCraft Builders (British Columbia)


Following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the Richmond Olympic Oval is intended to become an international centre of excellence for sport and wellness. The flexible design will facilitate a smooth transition from an Olympic facility to a future training and competition complex for paralympic sports as well as a multi-sport and wellness facility. The Oval will provide programs and services for every member of the community regardless of age, fitness or physical ability.

In addition, the facility will become a focal point for a new residential and commercial neighborhood that is envisioned to reconnect the City of Richmond to its urban waterfront, thus generating considerable economic and social benefits over the long-term.

Sources include: