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BC Place, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Issue 64 Dec / Jan 2011/2 : Architecture : Stadium

LIGHTING DESIGN: C.M. Kling & Associates PHOTOGRAPHY: Ed White / BC Place

The renovation of Vancouver’s landmark BC Place stadium created an exciting opportunity for an adaptable LED installation by C.M. Kling & Associates.

Video (c) Lumenpulse

For over 25 years BC Place has stood as an icon in the Vancouver skyline. Opened in 1983, the stadium was in need of upgrade and renovation in the lead up to the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Phase I of the renovation was completed prior to the Olympics and included interior renovations to washrooms, concourses, concessions, and suites.

Phase II would completely transform the stadium. The renovations involved the removal of the original inflated dome, and replaced it with a spectacular cable supported retractable system, the largest of its kind in the world. For the first time, BC Place guests can experience a soccer match or football game under 7,500 square metres of open sky.

Beginning immediately following the 2010 Paralympic Games the old roof was deflated and removed before construction could begin. The repalcement roof consists of 36 new 50m tall masts installed around the perimeter of the existing ring beam, each acting as the anchor for what has been described as the structural equivalent to eighteen suspension bridges. Cables traverse over 110m to the centre node above the score board assembly, which serves as the main anchor for the roof structure. Each suspension cable has thirteen hanger cables which hold up the new roof. A new 10m tall ETFE façade mounted between the original structure and the start of the new roof provides a view into the stadium from the outside.

Working with the teams from Stantec Architecture, Geiger Engineers and Genivar Engineering, C. M. Kling & Associates, Inc was engaged to illuminate this bold new roof structure.

This design was not to be your ‘run of the mill’ colour changing façade. The revitalisation of this iconic stadium required a more in depth review of the experience. The ETFE façade and the retractable roof insured that the viewer experience inside and outside this stadium would be like no other. People in neighbouring buildings and passersby can see through the building façade straight to the HD scoreboard.

Home to a Canadian Football League team, the BC Lions, and a Major League Soccer (MLS) team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, BC Place needed to feel unique for each team. The lighting design wanted to completely transform the building based on which team was playing.
The lighting design focused on three key areas: the façade, the roof, and the support structure. Using colour and sequenced lighting shows the design is able to create identifiable signature scenes for each user group.

The façade is made of over 1700 1.5m wide x 2m tall ETFE panels stacked four rows high. Between each row is a structure steel wind girt. ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) is a resilient plastic material (previously employed on the Water Cube in Beijing). This plastic will accept printed patterns to allow for different diffusion and transmission factors. From a lighting standpoint, it catches light beautifully, creating an ethereal scrim. Through mock-ups, the design team was able to determine the ideal beam spread and output required to best light the façade. A particular challenge was the late summer dusk in Vancouver, with sunset occurring after 9pm, sometimes two hours after the start of the game. As a result a higher output LED than originally planned was utilised. Lumenpulse Lumenfacade was selected for all the façade lighting.

“We wanted to allow more natural light into the stadium during the day, but we also wanted to get a rendering effect on the façade as early as possible in the evening,” explains David Ghatan, Senior Associate at C.M. Kling. “That meant that we had to compete with the low, setting sun and the field-of-play lighting.”

RGB LED graze fixtures four feet long with 30 x 60 optics were positioned 10cm from the back of the ETFE to light each panel. Each fixture has 12 DMX channels with control of each 1’ of LEDs. This totaled over 6,800 LF of LED and over 20,000 DMX channels for the façade alone.

The roof lighting was intended to compliment the façade. Covering 38,000 square metres, the roof posed a challenge to achieve even illumination. The only available mounting positions were the perimeter ring at the base of the roof and the masts. Any lighting mounted to the masts required access for service. This would require a ladder to be incorporated into the steel during construction. As a result, the design team wanted to keep the mast mounted lighting to a minimum and as low in elevation as possible. Additionally, wind and weather were a major concern for the sustainability of the fixtures and their ability to remain in focus. The top of the mast is over 75m from the pedestrian sidewalk below. Through computer analysis and experiments with a fixture sample, a mounting point 18m above the roof line was selected.
Given the practical limitations of lighting such a large area, C.M. Kling decided to approach the roof as a series of concentric rings of light, splitting the design into thirds. The first elevation of the roof, the most visible from the pedestrian plaza and the surrounding street level is most brightly illuminated, with fixtures 3m on centre around the whole roof. The next two thirds are each illuminated from the masts. Through a variation in optics and output fixtures from the Lumenpulse Lumenbeam family, fixtures are mounted four per mast, and are aimed to light each of the 36 roof ‘pie slices’. Each fixture has complete RGB LED control allowing for infinite programming flexibility.

To further accent the steel structure that holds up the roof, C. M. Kling proposed a point of light at the top of each vertical hanger cable, 468 in total. Each fixture would have its own DMX address and be capable of turning on/off, strobe, dimming, etc. The final fixture selection was 5000K LED custom fabricated by EN Group Lighting. This controllable starfield is used to set off the building against the night sky, and through programming is used to signal to the outside when the home team has scored, like fireworks.

All façade and roof lighting is controlled by a Pharos controller. This allows for a wide range of both static and dynamic programming.
C. M. Kling was also engaged to develop content for the new roof and façade. With the programming team at EOS Lightmedia, a Vancouver based system integration company, C. M. Kling created shows for both home sports teams and signature looks for the building itself. The design strategy from the very beginning was that the special effects of the new lighting system should be reserved for events as their impact would be dulled if they were used on a nightly basis. It was also of great importance to showcase this stadium as a steward for the community and a good neighbour. Lights are programmed to go off at 11pm unless there is an event still ongoing. On nights when there is no event, only the cable lights and low wattage uplights on the masts are illuminated.
Utilising the full RGB colour spectrum the show designs are categorised into static non-moving images, moving abstracted content and dynamic fast paced shows. Fixed looks use the colours of each team including ‘clear’ non-illuminated cubes. These serve as the black colour in each team’s colours, but also like a scrim allow the outside observer to see into the stadium and engage with the event, an important part of the architectural design.

The next series of shows are gradual moving abstracted content on the façade with fixed roof colours. These shows are played before and during the games. They are paced to not distract the audience or players.

Additionally, a series of dynamic fast paced shows were created. These incorporate content designs to be triggered when a team scores, again creating an interaction with the outside. The lighting design is also interactive with the audience participation in dynamic shows like ‘the wave’.

“Feedback has been extremely positive. It’s a unique structure that has brought the area to life after such a long period of construction,” says Ghatan “It is very elegant and creates what could be described as an ethereal light.”

Through creative, original use of LED lighting, BC Place is able to change the look and feel of the stadium to promote the events that once again shines as an icon in the Vancouver skyline.

Project Details
BC Place, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Client: Pavco
Lighting Design: C. M. Kling & Associates, Inc
Architect: Stantec Architecture
Roof Structural Engineering: Geiger Engineers
Building Engineering: Genivar

Lighting Specified
Facade: Lumenpulse Lumenfacade 30x60
Roof: Lumenpulse Lumenbeam Large, Lumenbeam Xlarge (LBX) RGB
Cable lights: EN Group node
Mast uplights: Lumenpulse Lumenbeam medium 3000K 6 degree
Control: Pharos LPC-60 with Pharos Designer software


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