Canadian Consulting Engineer

2010 Winter Olympics

August 1, 2009
By Jean Sorensen

Whistler Sliding CentreThe $70-million venue featuring the U-shaped sliding track designed by Udo Gurgel of IBG Designs of Germany will accommodate 12,000 fans for the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events. The slide --just one of 16...

Whistler Sliding Centre

The $70-million venue featuring the U-shaped sliding track designed by Udo Gurgel of IBG Designs of Germany will accommodate 12,000 fans for the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events. The slide –just one of 16 competitive tracks worldwide –features the world’s highest drop at 152 metres. It has 16 corners and 1,660 metres of refrigerated and highly groomed track expected to generate G-forces of up to 5.01 in the men’s luge event.

Stantec, drawing upon its successful design of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Sliding Centre, engineered the track and designed all seven buildings and the site’s infrastructure.

The largest buildings are the Track Lodge located at the bottom of the slide, and the Men’s Start building at the top of the run, which has a large deck with a panoramic view. The other buildings include the Women’s Start building, operations and refrigeration buildings, and the control tower.

Environmental features include minimizing the footprint to preserve the forest habitat, use of shotcrete with 15% fly-ash, and energy conservation measures such as using waste heat from the refrigeration system in different buildings.

The project has won several awards, including the Century Award, since it was completed in 2007.

Structural, mechanical, civil engineering: Stantec Consulting (Brent Fussell, P. Eng., Dejan Radoicic, P. Eng., Garry Romanetz, P. Eng., Jim Beveridge P. Eng.) Architect: Stantec Architecture (Laurenz Kosichek)

Richmond Olympic Oval

The spectacular Richmond Olympic Oval across the river from Vancouver International Airport has a design that embraces the grace of flight. The showcase roof system is made from unique panels of salvaged mountain pine beetle wood. Inside, the roof carries arches merging to a skater’s blade, but externally its design is made to resemble the outstretched swooping of a heron’s wing, a native bird often seen in fields and foreshore. The heron’s same powerful yet graceful flight will be replicated in the swooping stride of world-class speed skaters striding around the 400-metre track in 2010.

One major engineering challenge was placing the structure on the site which lies on the river delta. The ground was “soft, spongy and that made it jiggly,” tells Rob Simpson P. Eng. of Glotman-Simpson. An extremely flat ice-surface is needed for competitive speed skating. Glotman-Simpson’s solution was to drive more than 400 base piles 15 metres deep around the edges of a foundation that Simpson describes as like a “raft.” The slabs of two concrete levels connect opposing pairs of concrete buttresses that support the shallow, arched-roof.

Fast + Epp’s design for the roof uses composite glulam and steel arches which spring from the top of the concrete buttresses with a free span of 100 metres across the arena. The arch cross-sections, where they meet, are joined together by a steel frame formed in the shape of a skater’s blade. Specially-designed WoodWave panels, built from MPB wood, are used for the roof. Utilities such as heating, ventilation and sprinkler systems are inside the panels or the arches to preserve a clean line.

Sustainability features include heat recovery from both the ventilation system and ice-making system, and rainwater collection for irrigation and toilet flushing. Excellent acoustics in the $63-million structure will allow it to be used Post-Olympics for concerts.

Architect: Cannon Design

Base structure: Glotman-Simpson (Rob Simpson P. Eng., Anthony El-Araj, P. Eng.)

Roof: Fast + Epp (Paul Fast. P. Eng.).

Geotechnical: Thurber Engineering (David Tara, P. Eng.).

Electrical & mechanical: Stantec (Behzad Mehrabadi, P. Eng.)

Peak 2 Peak Lift

The new $50 million Peak 2 Peak world-class ski lift is not an official Olympic 2010 venue but its image on the skyline will be hard to miss. Linking ski facilities on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the lift is considered to have the world’s longest unsupported span between towers of just over 3 kilometres. There are four towers varying from 35 to 65 metres high, and over Fitzsimmons Creek the lift is 435 metres above the valley floor.

A ride from one mountain to the other takes approximately 11 minutes in one of the 28 gondolas that can carry in total about 2,000 passengers an hour.

Timberline Construction Group carried out the foundation lad superstructure construction on the towers and associated buildings. The largest challenge says Brent Hawkins, P. Eng. of Timberline was the short construction season. “The first year on site we had over 30 feet of snow and there was probably a week and half where two D8 Cats did nothing but push out snow,” he says.

One of the interesting features of the foundation of the terminals is that the concrete has no rock anchors. “There are probably 3,000 metres of concrete on the two terminals,” he says, adding that the sheer mass will give durability to the terminals plus eliminate the corrosion maintenance required for rock anchors.

Lift ropeway & tower design -Doppelmayr. Terminal design Architect: Cannon Design. Structural: Glotman-Simpson (Anthony El-Araj, P. Eng., Robert Simpson, P. Eng.). Geotechnical: Trow Associates (Ben Weiss, P. Eng.)

Olympic Village Neighbourhood Utility

The City of Vancouver’s 32-hectare Southeast False Creek (SEFC) development, which includes the Olympic Village as well as market and non-market housing, uses raw sewage in an urban setting to extract residual warmth. It recycles the heat back to the condominium towers.

Reclaiming the foreshore for the development was a major task as the area had been used by industry for decades. Crews removed abandoned pilings from the late 1800s, and even an old sunken boat. Today the reclaimed foreshore features a nautical theme.

The Neighbourhood Energy Utility System (NEU) has three components: the energy plant located under the Granville Street bridge, hot water distribution pipe looping around to the Olympic Village and other buildings, and energy transfer stations located in each building. The water is distributed to the units though European- style heating coils in ceilings. The hot water in the distribution system loses only a few degrees before returning to the plant.

Sewage is first screened to remove solids and the heat pump has been designed with a self-cleaning system. The system can generate 2.7 megawatts of energy supplying 70% of the SEFC community’s needs. (Three buildings also have solar thermal panels on the roof).

NEU design -Sandwell (Ray Tarnai, P. Eng.); FVB Energy (Peter Beckett, P. Eng., Bard Skagestad P. Eng., John Chin P. Eng.); project management: City of Vancouver. Foreshore -Hayco/EBA (Ralph Everts, P. Eng., Tara Hirsekorn, P. Eng.)

Nordic Centre

The $102-million Whistler Olympic Park/Whistler Paralympic Park -also called the Nordic Centre -is the first venue in Olympic history to combine all four Nordic disciplines (biathlon, ski jumping, Nordic combined and cross-country) into one facility.

The Whistler facility features a standard and large jump, with judges towers and start houses, a day lodge, kilometres of groomed track, a shooting range and three stadia.

VANOC wanted sustainable development for the project. Joe Scholte, P. Eng., project leader for Sa
ndwell, says. “There was not a tree cut and taken from the site,” adding the wood was either used or turned into mulch and left on site.

Prime engineering consultant: Sandwell Engineering (Joe Scholte, P. Eng., Ray Tarnier, P. Eng., John Karlsson, P. Eng., John Sherstobitoff, P. Eng.) Jump Design: CJP

Hillcrest Olympic Centre

Nudged into the foot of scenic Queen Elizabeth Park is Vancouver’s Olympic Centre/Paralympic Centre, venue for the Winter Olympics curling events. Also known as the Hillcrest Park Recreation Centre, the complex will be converted post-Olympics for community uses.

Creative engineering forged synergies between the complex’s dual usages -the ice rinks and the pool areas. A glazed concourse acts as a buffer between these hot and cool zones.

The complex is built to last 70 years and to achieve LEED Gold certification. Its major sustainability feature is the ability through heat pumps to use the ice arena’s waste heat in the pool area, with desiccant dehumidifiers serving the curling area.

Architect: Hughes Condon Marler. Structural: Read Jones Christoffersen (Robert Neville P. Eng., Leslie Peer, P. Eng.). Mechanical & electrical: Stantec Consulting (M. H. (Sid) Siddiqui P. Eng.)


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