From: Larry Fine, Reuters
Published February 13, 2010 09:31 AM

Richmond Olympic Oval represents green gold for buildings

Gold medals are not handed out for architectural design, but the environmentally friendly speed skating arena built for the Vancouver Olympics is being called a winner by the bladed athletes who will compete there this month.

The Richmond Olympic Oval, considered the signature building of the Games, contains salvaged wood damaged by a pine-beetle infestation and has a massive roof shaped like a wave.


"We compete in some nice ovals that have been built as Olympic facilities in the past," defending 5,000 meters champion Chad Hedrick of the United States told Reuters. "This one here obviously outdoes all of them. They went big on this.

"Being an Olympian, the best part is walking in and feeling like you're being treated special, feeling like you've really made it to the big time. When you walk in here you definitely feel that way."

Completed just over a year ago, the $178 million building that sits along the Fraser River in Richmond, just outside downtown Vancouver, is striking on the outside, spectacular inside and a model environmental sustainability.

The most distinctive external element is the roof, designed in a wave formation that is one of the world's largest clearspan wooden structures.

Inside, 15 soaring wooden arches span a wooden ceiling joined in a way that creates a ripple effect and gives the feel of being sheltered by a massive heron's wing, the city's official symbol.

"Walking into the oval at Richmond is amazing. You just get really inspired. It's beautiful looking. It's very motivating to be there. It's just a great place," 1994 triple gold medal winner Johann Olav Koss of Norway told Reuters on Thursday.

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