©The Sansin Corporation 2016. Reprinted with permission.
The Vidéotron Centre is a new multi-use indoor arena in Quebec City, Quebec. It occupies approximately 64,000 square meters (689,000 sq. ft.) of space and has a capacity of 18,482 spectators for hockey and 20,396 for non-sporting events. It will mainly be used for ice hockey, other indoor sports and music concerts, although it is hoped the sleek, new, state-of-the-art venue can also help boost the city’s chances for a future NHL hockey team.
Opened in September 2015, the US$400 million, seven-story arena fits into the city’s strategy of building sustainability projects. It is currently in the process of becoming LEED certified at the silver level for the construction and renovation of its building. It has a dual-structural system consisting of ductile concrete walls and a steel frame, and wood plays an important role not only in the arena’s sustainability, but also in its structural integrity, performance and beauty.
The arena was created by the Integrated Team SAGP (a consortium comprising ABCP architecture, GLCRM, Populous, and SNC Lavalin). Francois Moreau, CEO of ABCP architecture, a firm internationally known for its sustainable design and a member of the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC), explained the design for the arena, saying, “The number one motivation for using wood in the arena was to give the building a distinctive local signature and foster the quality of the interior spaces.” He added, “However, given the structural capacity and fast construction time required for of this type of building, wood also proved to be an economical choice. The environmental benefits of wood were another reason for choosing this material.”
These environmental as well as additional benefits have implications for other building designs. Moreau explained that although many materials such as concrete and steel are recyclable, wood is the only renewable building material and takes very little energy to harvest and process compared to other materials. Proximity to a plentiful supply, such as in the case of the arena’s location, reduces shipping costs and helps local employment. In addition, wood timber is a carbon sink, a natural reservoir that accumulates and stores carbon dioxide. So every cubic meter of wood used offsets one ton of greenhouse gas emissions, Moreau noted.
The need for proper protection to maintain the durability and aesthetic performance of wood in building construction cannot be overstated. At the Quebec City site, for example, environmental conditions can be daunting, with long periods of cold from the arctic air. High performance, water-borne, environmentally friendly wood finishes were used, some prior to construction. The finishes were selected to complement the coloration of the wood and were recommended by Cecobois, a regional program of the Québec Forest Industry Council whose goal is to support innovation and provide leadership on the use of wood and wood products.
The arena’s design is part of a growing trend in building design, as increasingly wood is becoming the logical choice for large structures. Beyond aesthetic and environmental considerations, wood structures are now becoming very competitive options. For one, wood has virtually infinite building possibilities given its ability to be shaped into curves.
“Architects and engineers are starting to see the full potential of wood as evidenced by media coverage in many local and international publications,” stated Moreau. “However, despite these efforts, certain prejudices remain, and many buildings that could benefit from the use of wood do not.” Moreau believes it’s the responsibility of design and construction professionals to educate their clients of the myriad possibilities wood has to offer.
The Vidéotron Centre is the biggest public investment in Quebec City’s history. The developers’ trust in a wood design demonstrates their foresight and stands as a world-class example for building structures of all sizes, shapes and functions.