Monday, February 24, 2014

The Mystique of Richmond Olympic Oval

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The Mystique of Richmond Olympic Oval

By Sora Kazesawa
The Daily Magi
October 14, 2063

The Richmond Olympic Oval (French: Anneau olympique de Richmond) is an indoor multi-sports arena in the Canadian city of Richmond, British Columbia. The oval was built for the 2010 Winter Olympics and was originally configured with an speed skating rink. The venue has since been reconfigured and now serves as a community multi-sport park and includes two ice hockey rinks, two running tracks, a climbing wall, a rowing tank and a flexible area which can be used for, among other sports, basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer and table tennis.

The Olympic bid called for the oval to be located on the grounds of Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Burnaby, but Richmond was instead selected in 2004. Although twice the price of the SFU alternative, the location was selected because the city offered to cover all costs exceeding $60 million. Construction started in 2006, cost 178 million Canadian dollars and the venue opened on 12 December 2008. In addition to speed skating at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the venue has hosted the 2009 World Single Distance Speed Skating Championships. Designed by Cannon Design, the oval's elements are made to resemble the heron.

The facility is located on at 6111 River Road in Richmond, immediately south of Vancouver, on the south shore of the Fraser River. The building is 200 meters (660 ft) long and 100 meters (330 ft) wide; the roof covers an area of 2.6 hectares (6.4 acres), while the building is 33,600 square meters (362,000 sq ft). The main design inspiration is the heron, the official bird of Richmond. The roof is held up using fifteen glued laminated timber beams, and is designed to resemble the wings of the heron.

The oval's roof uses pine beetle damaged wood, which was selected as a showpiece to aid the use of a material which has caused a negative economic impact in many British Columbia communities. The building received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Sivler certification. Environmental design includes the capture of rain water on the roof and the recycling of waste heat energy from the refrigeration system for the ice surfaces.

The Olympic configuration, which was in place from the opening until April 2010, consisted of a 400-meter (1,312 ft) speed skating rink. While configured for speed skating, the venue had a capacity for 8,000 spectators, of which 7,336 were bucket seats. In addition there were 200 broadcast commentator positions and 200 seated press positions. Four scoreboards and four videoboards were mounted in the arena and the Olympic doping laboratory was located at the oval.

After the games the venue was reconfigured. The upper level consists of a fitness center with views of the North Shore mountains and the river and houses more than 200 pices of equipment. The main floor consists of three activity zones: the Ice Zone consists of two ice hockey rinks with international dimensions, the Court Zone consists of ten basketball courts and the Track Zone consists of a five-lane 200-meter (660 ft) oval running track and a five-lane 110-meter (360 ft) sprint track. A climbing wall is installed at the Track Zone, which offers thirty-one climbing routes. The venue can variously be configured to hold eighteen badminton courts, thirteen volleyball courts, ten basketball courts, three indoor soccer fields or sixteen table tennis tables. Within the oval running track is areas for in-field athletics. A rowing tank has been built at the facility.

Outside the venue is Water Sky Garden, a sculptural environment designed by Janet Echelman. A 91 meter (300 ft) boardwalk weaves through the pond and two 16-meter (52 ft) pedestrian bridges cross the pond to reach the Olympic Oval. Above the pond hangs the artist's "sky lantern" sculpture. 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).

The oval is within walking distance of Lansdowne Station on the SkyTrain's Canada Line. Alternatively, the venue can be reached using the C95 bus, which connects to Richmond–Brighouse Station. Parking is available, with 450 parking spaces being located on the structure's lower level. The venue is in the immediate vicinity of Vancouver International Airport.

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