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CURRENT COLUMN

Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers
September 2013
Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers

Audain Art Museum
June 2013
Siting an Art Museum in a Forest

Gordon Smith Gallery
November 2012
Boosting the Profile of Artists for Kids

Equinox
September 2012
From glacial meltwater to contemporary art

Morris & Helen Belkin Gallery
June 2012
Professional curators of contemporary art were once as scarce as hen's teeth

Equinox Gallery
April 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

Equinox Gallery
February 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

Jacana Gallery
November 2011
Nothing is certain but death and taxes

Satellite Gallery
September 2011
Hope springs eternal


June 2011
The Hotel Waldorf
reimagined


April 2011
Education for the eye,
soul and mind


February 2011
Fine art inkjet prints
are here to stay


November 2010
SAAG endows the old
with new possibilities

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Gallery Views

By ANN ROSENBERG

The design of the Richmond Olympic Oval is a winner

Richmond Olympic Oval

Interior of Richmond Olympic Oval featuring composite wood 'glulam' beams and innovative pine-beetle wood ceiling. PHOTO: CITY OF RICHMOND

The Richmond Olympic Oval has essentially been completed within the projected $178,000,000 budget months before the facility will house some 8,000 fans of long-track speed skating (and other events) during the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The mammoth 506,000-square-foot Olympic venue and future Centre of Excellence for Sports and Wellness, was overseen by the international architectural firm of Cannon Design whose descriptive slogan is “an ideas-based practice.” On May 15, 2009, according to a Richmond city hall press release, this building, which is attracting attention because of its ingenious roof structure and green building methods, won an Award of Excellence for Innovation in Architecture (Science) from The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

The Oval is set in the middle of a 32-acre tract of land situated on the banks of the Fraser River’s South Arm, a few minutes away from Vancouver International Airport. On adjacent property, the Kwok Brothers of ASPAC Developments (the firm responsible for the much-praised Coal Harbour community in Downtown Vancouver) is masterminding plans for the new Oval Riverfront development project where high-rise residences are now under construction.

In August, Richmond’s public art planner Eric Fiss gave me a tour of the Oval and the public artworks completed in 2008. Inside, the sports facility was a hive of activity. People looked small in this vast space, but the sky-like colours of the mammoth geometric shapes that covered the brutal rawness of the concrete walls and the intricately composed curved sections of the wooden roof, humanized and gentled the environment.

Whether looking up before entering or marvelling at the ceiling of the vast space when standing within the Oval, the vault constructed by Delta’s StructureCraft Builders commands attention. The roof is comprised of a multitude of curved "wood wave" panels utilizing 2x4’s cut from B.C. pine-beetle-killed wood. The wood construction ensures the ceiling is light in weight, has good acoustics and is relatively economical to repair. The "wood waves" were set down on 328-foot-long wood-steel composite crossbeams.

Susan Point - roof support pier

Roof support pier featuring integrated art work Buttress Runnel by Coast Salish artist Susan A. Point
PHOTO: CITY OF RICHMOND

First Nations artist Susan A. Point created the 23-foot-tall cast concrete Buttress Runnels on the north side of the Oval facing the water garden in consultation with Cannon Design and Structure- Craft. These run-off channels are integral to the rooftop system that collects rain water for the building's toilets and many other uses.

When water courses down over Point's low relief sculptures of teeming fish and alert herons, her Buttress Runnels allude to salmon streams, the ecosystem of the Fraser Delta and the traditional Coast Salish way of life.

Other artists have created works that are beautiful to look at and stimulating to think about. I hope to review them next summer when all aspects of the Oval are complete, when the water garden has had a chance to mature and the sports and wellness centre has assumed its post-Olympic profile. Don't wait until then to view Buster Simpson's Ice Blade and Janet Echelman's Water Sky Garden.

Ann Rosenberg is a freelance curator, critic and author.

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