A new $870 million roof for the Olympic Stadium

The new $870 million fixed and rigid roof presented Monday by Quebec could put an end to the saga of the roof of the Olympic Stadium which has lasted for nearly 40 years, believe stakeholders consulted by The newspaper.

• Read also: The short story of the Stadium roof problems

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• Read also: The future roof and technical ring of the Olympic Stadium

“The partially glazed fixed roof corresponds exactly to the current needs of the Stadium, even if it does not correspond to the initial project,” summarizes Philippe Lupien, architect and professor at the School of Design at UQAM.

If the architect Roger Taillibert had designed the large leaning tower for which the Stadium is famous for the 1976 Olympic Games, it was to install a canvas that could be assembled and deployed, he explains.

But the installation of a first retractable roof proved a disaster in 1987, as did the installation of the current Teflon fabric, in 1998, which has suffered more than 20,000 tears since.

Third roof

“We were on the verge of dismantling the roof within a year or two, which put all the infrastructure inside the enclosure at risk. With the bad weather, we were heading towards a closure,” explained Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx at a press briefing on Monday.

After months of analysis, the Quebec government announced the replacement of the roof and the technical ring of the Stadium.

With a lifespan of fifty years, the new steel structure will include a transparent glass hoop, a nod to Mr. Taillibert’s initial idea.

The technical concrete ring will be replaced by a steel tube.

The Pomerleau-Canam consortium will be responsible for the work which will take place over four years and which will cost Quebec $870 million.

“We are convinced that we had no right to make a mistake a third time and that we had to pay the right price,” declared the CEO of the Olympic Park Development and Enhancement Company, Michel Labrecque. .

Spin off

The economic community is hopeful that this time will be the right one.

“This time, there is clarity in the concept that we want to develop: a multifunctional center where there would be events and trade fairs,” says Michel Leblanc, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. .

He believes that Quebec must now do more to stimulate private investment to develop local businesses.

For him, demolition was not a solution, especially considering the key location of the Stadium, near major public transport routes.

Same story with the Eastern Montreal Chamber of Commerce.

“The most profitable solution for citizens is to provide the Stadium with a roof for the next fifty years and to maximize the benefits for the neighborhood,” underlined CEO Jean-Denis Charest.

The Olympic Stadium roof saga

1976: Inauguration of the Stadium for the Montreal Olympic Games.

1987: The first roof, a removable Kevlar canvas, is installed. It tore apart the following year following violent winds.

1998: The current Teflon and fiberglass canvas is installed by the Birdair firm to replace the initial roof, which suffered numerous tears.

1999: The roof collapses under the snow during the assembly of the Auto Show, leaving a gaping hole in the canvas.

2002: The Olympic Park Development and Enhancement Company is launching the project to replace the roof. Different projects were submitted, without success.

2017: The Liberal government of Philippe Couillard announces a replacement project worth $200 to $250 million.

2020: The Pomerleau-Canam consortium qualifies to design the roof.

July 2023: we learn that the concrete technical ring will have to be replaced, which delays the project which was to be completed in 2024.

February 2024: Quebec announces an investment of $870M for a fixed steel roof, with a glass hoop.

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