When PCL began revitalizing BC Place in Vancouver, we had a massive challenge to solve — or rather, 36 massive challenges to solve.
A major component of the stadium project was replacing the original retractable roof, which had outlived its useful life. To get the new roof in place, though, we first had to erect 36 steel support masts — each standing 50 metres (165 feet) tall, weighing 240 metric tonnes (529,000 pounds), and leaning backwards toward active streets and occupied buildings — in the middle of a densely populated downtown core.
But we rose to that challenge and every other one along the way. We completed the project on budget — including an additional $70 million worth of work — and met an aggressive schedule of just under two years between major sporting events.
Since 1983, BC Place — the first domed stadium in Canada — has been a sports and entertainment hub in downtown Vancouver. It has a capacity of 54,500 spectators, and 35 million visitors have passed through its gates since it opened. It is home to the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions and Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and regularly hosts major sports, music and special events.
After hosting the closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, BC Place was ready for a facelift. But the revitalization work had to be done quickly, as the stadium was slated to host the 99th Grey Cup in November 2011. Our team set out an ambitious schedule to make sure the stadium was ready for the CFL championship game, which the hometown Lions won.
Because BC Place welcomes visitors from around the world, we assembled the best team possible to live up to client and community expectations. Nearly 1,500 tradespeople were on the project site 24/7 to help bring the client’s vision for this fan-favorite facility to life.
This massive revitalization project included a seismic upgrade, new finishes, mechanical and electrical system upgrades, enhanced entrances and concourses, and exterior landscaping. We added new lighting and sound systems, installed high-definition electronic video boards, laid down a new all-weather turf surface, and replaced more than 50,000 seats.
The building’s new façade and glazed curtain walls allow more natural light in, and the nine-meter-high louvered walls made of transparent industrial-strength plastic can project custom LED lighting animations, creating the now-famous “Northern Lights Display” that lights up the building for special events and community celebrations.
BC Place’s original air-supported roof had outlived its design life and was no longer efficient. We replaced it with a fabric roof that has permanent and retractable sections. Each of the 36 support masts was manufactured with a tolerance equal to the thickness of one sheet of paper. This was key to the retractable roof section functioning properly, and the client called the whole system a “technological marvel.”
The retractable portion covers the playing surface of the stadium, while the permanent roof keeps guests sheltered, rain or shine. Our team designed and engineered the roof specifically for Vancouver’s climate. Because the roofing material had to be manufactured overseas, two PCL employees travelled the world to make sure it was delivered on time and measured up to our high standard.
The meticulous work of PCL employees and our trade partners resulted in significant savings in the original scope of the revitalization project, allowing the client to add $70 million worth of additional renovations in the last 12 months of the project without exceeding their original budget. All the work was completed in just 19 months, and the stadium reopened with two months to spare before the 2011 Grey Cup.