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History in the making

When B.C. Place reopens next summer, it will make history with the world’s first retractable roof to replace an air-supported dome.

When B.C. Place reopens next summer, it will make history with the world’s first retractable roof to replace an air-supported dome.

Renderings of the renovation show B.C. Place capped by a crown of 36 masts each spiring 14 storeys into the sky.

The total cost of the project is $563 million, which includes $458 million for the new roof.

“This is the first one of these in the world, as far as I’m aware,” said Howard Crosley, B.C. Place’s general manager.

Several air-supported stadiums in the U.S. have been converted to fixed roofs, he added, but all were much smaller, with capacities similar to GM Place.

Other than the size of the project — the roof is more than four hectares in size — the challenge, said Crosley, is that B.C. Place was designed with the forces pushing outward.

With a retractable roof, which includes 17,000 tonnes of steel, the forces acting on the building are essentially reversed.

For the past year and a half, workers have reinforced B.C. Place’s columns and walls to support the new roof.

In the months ahead, a temporary column will be erected at the centre of the stadium to support the new masts during construction.

Each mast will be lifted in place by a massive crane carted into the stadium on 85 flatbed trailers. They will be attached by cable to the mast on the opposite side of the stadium. A B.C. Place video compared the new roof to 18 suspension bridges.

 
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