Rounding The Corner: Richmond's Olympic Skating Oval

Apollo Sheet Metal’s innovative triangular and trapezoidal duct work system in Richmond’s Olympic Skating Oval features cutting-edge design and installation work.

The 32,000-square-foot Richmond Oval is set to host its first skaters this month after a year of construction on 32 acres along the Fraser River owned by the City of Richmond. It will house a 400-metre speed skating track and seat approximately 8,000 people for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and provide an “international centre of excellence for sports and wellness” after the games, according to a news release from the City of Richmond.

Coquitlam-based Apollo Sheet Metal was awarded the ventilation contract for the project. Though the company’s project list is diverse – ranging from work at the MSA Hospital, the Life Sciences Building at University of British Columbia and Children’s Hospital to smaller, unique jobs like a mushroom farm, a chicken processing plant and on the docks – the Oval project is much more complex than that typical of the company’s operations.

The ventilation system fabricated and installed by Apollo consists of both triangular and trapezoidal duct work and the system has 364 rotational jet nozzles that can be moved to blow directionally depending on the ice usage.

Miles Heck, construction manager for Apollo, says the triangle ducts were installed within 52 curved wooden beams. The ventilation system supplies the trapezoidal system, which runs the entire length of the building above the wooden beams. The configuration comprises of 13 beams, each manufactured in four sections, meaning a total of 52 sections.

“We fabricated and installed the ducting for the 52 beams individually and prior to placement by the crane,” says Heck. “When the beam sections were assembled the triangular duct had to line up perfectly. It was interesting, challenging and not a common installation by any means.”

Apollo used a combination of CAD software programs to design the trapezoidal ducts across the upper angle of the beams and to establish the system’s layout. “We have had CAD software in place since 1986,” says Heck. “Along the path of advancement over the years, we have utilized various software products as more user-friendly and detailed versions entered the market. The use of CAD design carries the benefit of assisting in fabrication and installation of our product.”

Besides building the duct configuration to suit a curved structure, the location of the ductwork and the elevation proved challenging. The safety of the installers was a critical consideration, as this was a special installation procedure. The project remained on schedule and on budget.

“Meeting the timeline of the beam installation was a huge effort on everyone’s part, but it worked out well in the end,” says Heck.

The Richmond Oval Project, which also includes a new waterfront plaza and park and a parkade, is budgeted for $178 million and will be the first of its kind in BC. Its main activity floor will offer ice, hardwood and an indoor track area for a variety of community and competitive events, and a complete range of sports medicine and wellness services and activity areas, including a major fitness centre and retail and food services.

The LEED Silver certified building received $60 million from Government of Canada and the Province of BC toward the capital cost and a portion of a $110 million Legacy Trust to offset operating costs.

This article written by Jessica Krippendorf and originally appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Sheet Metal Journal