Olympic Stadium roof, complete with 2,700 rips, still deemed safe
Published Wednesday, July 24, 2013 2:36PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 24, 2013 6:28PM EDT
MONTREAL - The 15-year-old fibreglass membrane roof at the Olympic Stadium, an almost-immediate disappointment after its installation in 1998, is rapidly falling apart.
The latest count sees 2,700 holes in the roof, over double the total of a year ago and more than a sixfold increase over 2011.
Officials insist the roof is safe, in non-winter months at least.
“Our priority at the Olympic park is to make sure that the public and our employees are safe. So we have worked out a use protocol which ensures the safety of everybody involved," said David Heurtel Olympic Park President and CEO. "So 24 hours prior to an event, if we have a weather report indicate that there will be snow, or any type of accumulation on the roof, we shut down the stadium.”
The building was designed to have a retractable roof when it opened for the Olympics in 1976 but was only capped in 1987.
After being opened 88 times, that Kevlar roof was left closed due to repeated damage.
That initial roof was replaced in 1998 with a $37 million fiberglass membrane roof from Birdair of Amherst N.Y.
That roof ripped after just a few months later, as five workers setting up an auto show were injured in January 1999 when snow fell through the overhead structure.
In 2010 authorities came close to ordering a steel fixed roof from SNC Lavalin that would last at least 50 years at the cost of less than $300 million but the deal was never finalized.
And last year a round of public hearings led by LIse Bisonnette concluded with a recommendation to install a $300 million removable roof, possibly using architect Roger Taillebert’s initial concept but using newer engineering methods and materials.
In 2010 the roof was described as having lost 50 percent of its resistance and requiring weekly repairs. It is now deemed to have lost 60 percent of its resistance.