Richmond Olympic Oval wins first major international award

Fast + Epp Structural Engineers of Vancouver received the Award for Sports or Leisure Structures for the firm’s work on the Richmond Olympic Oval Roof. The award, which acknowledges achievement in structural design, was announced in London, England on Friday, October 9th at the Institution of Structural Engineers 2009 Structural Awards Gala, and marks the first major international award for the Richmond Olympic Oval. The Oval took top honours in a field of such outstanding international nominees as the 2008 Olympic Games’ Beijing National Stadium (a.k.a. Bird’s Nest) in Beijing, China; the Wimbledon Centre Court roof in London, England; and the New Elephant House in Copenhagen, Denmark. 


Based in London, the Institution of Structural Engineers is the world’s largest membership organization dedicated to the art and science of structural engineering. This annual competition recognizes the work of the world’s most talented structural designers and their contribution to the built environment. It showcases projects that lead the industry’s development. 


“To be acknowledged as exceptional amongst some of the world’s premier structural engineers is truly a privilege,” said Paul Fast, Principal of Fast + Epp from London, where he and partner Gerald Epp accepted the award in the company of Marion LaRue of Cannon Design Architecture and Greg Scott of the City of Richmond. “The Richmond Olympic Oval is an example of what tremendous teamwork can achieve. Under the leadership of architects Cannon Design and using the vision of the City of Richmond as our guiding principle, we collaborated on producing not only a fully integrated and multi-faceted sustainable design, but one that opens up new possibilities for the use of pine beetle-kill wood which is proven to be a unique, durable and aesthetically beautiful material.”


Fast + Epp conceived the design idea for the Richmond Olympic Oval Roof by capitalizing on the opportunity to use a unique blend of materials, including lumber from BC pine beetle-killed forests. This wood, along with other materials, was used to design the structural elements that integrate and conceal the roof’s mechanical systems, providing the Richmond Olympic Oval Roof with the warm, impressive and unique structure it is receiving acclaim for today. 


“Pine beetle-kill wood must be harvested rapidly in order to preserve its structural integrity,” says Epp. “By working together to achieve the vision of the architects, we are excited to have found a positive, sustainable use for this wood – one that brings natural beauty not only to the people of British Columbia, but to visitors from around the world when the Oval is showcased at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.”


The Richmond Olympic Oval, designed by architectural firm Cannon Design, is a multi-purpose sports and recreation facility that will serve as the Long Track Speed Skating venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The one-of-a-kind 6.5-acre roof structure features hollow, triangular-shaped composite wood steel arches. Spanning the arches are “wood wave” panels also designed by Fast + Epp in collaboration with fabricator StructureCraft Builders Inc, and constructed from one million feet of pine beetle-kill wood boards from the forests of British Columbia. As one of the largest timber roofs in the world, it not only represents an economical design solution, but also striking aesthetic quality and enhanced acoustic performance.


Fast + Epp also received commendation for the Richmond Olympic Oval Roof by the Institution of Structural Engineers for the David Alsop Sustainability Award for achievement in structural design, where outstanding commitment to sustainability and respect for the environment has been demonstrated.


Established in Vancouver in 1985, Fast + Epp has more than 20 years of experience designing buildings in British Columbia, Yukon, USA, Germany, China, Korea, and Japan. Currently, the firm employs a staff of 25 people, which includes 15 engineers, four of whom have postgraduate degrees, and two of whom have LEED® AP designations. Fast + Epp is rapidly becoming recognized for its work with wood in unique environments and in combination with other materials, as well as creative structural design solutions which feature innovative integration of diverse materials to enhance performance, aesthetic, and value.