The Richmond Olympic Oval by Cannon Design

February 14, 2010

The Richmond Olympic Oval, is a facility in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada (a suburb of Vancouver), that is the venue for the speed skating events of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Designed by Cannon Design, the building was built on a site beside the Fraser River, with the roof taking the stylized shape of a heron’s wing, a tribute to the large wading birds that live along the riverbank.


The Richmond Olympic Oval by Cannon Design

The design of the Richmond Olympic Oval is centred upon three, main conceptual themes: Flow, Flight, and Fusion. These themes are reflected in a number of the building’s striking features.

• The heron, the official symbol of the City of Richmond, is celebrated in a series of feathered roof spans that tail off the edge of the building to create porches that serve as outdoor gathering spaces. The Oval’s roofline also recalls the outline of the stylized heron in the city’s logo.

• Translucent polycarbonate walls on the Oval’s south, east, and west facades show a dynamic colour variation across their length, evoking the flowing colours of the estuary while mediating the flow of sunlight to the building’s interior and displaying the muted outlines of figures inside the building.

• An irregular pattern of clear glazing in the south wall provides moments of transparency and promotes interaction between dynamic interior spaces and the street.

• The Oval’s glassed northern side provides spectacular views to the Fraser River and North Shore mountains.

• The north buttresses are articulated with a relief sculpture by artist Susan Point.

• A new integrated public art work by artist Janet Echelman is suspended over a large pond adjoining the Oval.

• The vehicular bridge over the Hollybridge Canal, near the Oval’s southeast entrance, features art elements by artist Buster Simpson.

• Public artworks are essential elements of an integrated landscape design that complements the diverse recreational opportunities, cultural experiences, and other public amenities offered inside the Oval.

• The landscape design encompasses three main, interconnected public spaces: Legacy Plaza, Waterworks, and Riverside. Hollybridge Vehicular Bridge by Buster Simpson The Richmond Hollybridge Canal Bridge – a vehicular bridge that crosses Hollybridge Canal at High Street, near the Oval’s southeast entrance – is the first public art project visitors encounter as they enter the Oval site. Artist Buster Simpson collaborated with landscape architect Christopher Phillips to integrate art elements into the bridge’s design to create a kinesthetic threshold crossing experience and a processional civic entry to the Oval.

• On each side of the short four-lane bridge stand four light poles with glass blades that resemble a series of speed-skating blades positioned at the starting line.

• By day, the glass blades mirror the adjacent landscape as well as reflect and diffract ambient light. At night, efficient LED lighting transforms the blades into an illuminated vector and beacon.

• Skate marks in the concrete walkway below also playfully commemorate the speed-skating competition for which the Oval was created.

• Contemporary handrails in stainless steel and high-density polyethylene on both sides of the bridge complement the blade art pieces.

• Handrails invite visitors to lean and view the “bioditch” in the canal below. Integrated Landscape Design The integrated landscape design for the Oval site envisions an outdoor environment that complements the diverse recreational opportunities, cultural experiences, and other public amenities offered inside the Oval. The landscape design encompasses three main, interconnected public spaces.

• Legacy Plaza welcomes and accommodates crowds arriving and leaving the Oval. It is designed to accommodate small gatherings and future public art.

• Waterworks consists of a large pond that detains stormwater, improves water quality, and may provide water for site use. The pond also provides a major public urban space and attraction.

• Riverside is a major festival space capable of hosting up to 8,000 people. It includes plaza and lawn space, amphitheatre seating, and steps toward the Middle Arm Dyke Trail and the Fraser River. The three major spaces are connected by plazas, accessible pathways, and stairs to form a route called The Stroll that encircles the Oval. Furnishings are provided throughout the site for resting, viewing, and gathering. Landscape design and public artwork are being constructed in concert with the Oval, which opened in fall 2008 as a speed-skating training facility and community resource.

Photography by Nic Lehoux, Derek Lepper, Peter Vanderwarker, Hubert Kang and Bob Matheson

Visit the Cannon Design website – here.