Olympic Oval (2001) GSBS

A speed skater makes a dramatic aesthetic statement sweeping through a turn—an image that inspired the design team as it created the sweeping cable suspension system for the Utah Olympic Oval.

As with athletes, an athletic facility must make more than a visual statement, and the design team focused all elements of this facility on speed skating, resulting in what The Salt Lake Tribune claimed is “the fastest ice on earth.” The architect designed a “superflat” concrete slab without surface variations. This required a special concrete mix, carefully designed reinforcement, a continuous pour, and a special rolling surface finisher.

The temperature must be consistent throughout the ice sheet to avoid “soft spots” that slow a skater down. This required strategic placement of over 30 miles of cooling pipes and 74 miles of rebar. Into this tight weave of metal, the concrete needed to flow without creating voids that might compromise structural integrity and cause temperature irregularities.

Sustainable elements in the design resulted in one of the first of thirteen LEED-rated buildings approved by the U.S. Green Building Council. The oval’s roof is held up by a cable suspension system that dramatically lowered the roof and cut the building’s volume in half. This required 953 tons less steel to construct than equivalent conventional structures and less energy to heat and cool the facility.

Recycled local steel from scrapped cars, and recycled aluminum, cardboard, concrete, bricks, and asphalt were utilized. $1.6 million in salvaged equipment from an existing plant provided 60 percent of the new refrigeration/ice making plant and high efficiency motors, pumps, condensers, and other energy-saving equipment were utilized among many other things.

An athlete’s success is often determined by his or her ability to focus limited resources on a goal. With one-tenth of the budget for the previously built enclosed oval in Nagano, the Utah Olympic Oval design team achieved aesthetics, performance, and sustainability.

5662 S 4800 W Kearns, UT 84118

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