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The remediation of the SEFC brownfield site was a critical step in the construction process. Metro-Can, a family-run diversified general contracting company headquartered in BC, took on the job.

“The sheer size of this job was our first challenge,” says Derek Pilecki, Metro-Can’s Director of Preconstruction. “The Olympic Village excavation contract was possibly the very largest building excavation contract in Vancouver’s history.”

Metro-Can worked with Matcon Excavation and Shoring Ltd. and Keystone Environmental to complete the remediation, with Vector Engineering providing surveying and quantification services for Millennium Development. The team removed the soils, categorized them and trucked them to certified fill sites or treatment facilities as required. A second challenge was constructing the water cut-off wall necessary to keep False Creek out of the excavations, accomplished using jet grout technology.

“Our third challenge was removing vast quantities of rainfall,” Pilecki remembers. “A 12 hectare site collects a lot of water, which becomes contaminated from contact with exposed soils. We couldn’t discharge it to False Creek, so it was a serious problem.” With a treatment system installed by Stormtech Water Treatment Systems, and assistance from Devon Environmental Services of California, the water quality was eventually acceptable for discharge in Vancouver’s sanitary systems.

Metro-Can and its team started excavation in January 2007, and the Olympic Village site was declared remediated in September 2008.

Wilco Landscape Westcoast Inc.

On any given day, you’ll find Wilco’s specialists leading projects ranging from a rooftop garden in Vancouver to a mine reclamation project in Ontario. With 17 years in BC and 50 years of history across Canada, the company is an expert in the construction of built landscapes.

At Olympic Village, Wilco built the entire pathway that snakes around the waterfront, including granite terraces, wooden piers, site furniture, handrails, bridges and lighting. In addition, Wilco constructed Habitat Island, an entirely man-made site providing habitat for wildlife.

Rob Maat, President and CEO of Wilco Westcoast, says the complexity of the project, with its integration of diverse elements, high level of detail and fast timeline, made it a welcome challenge.

“There were a lot of technical details, since most of the site was hard installations,” he says. “Everything was custom built, so we worked with the landscape architects to make sure there won’t be maintenance problems, that it will last, be durable, and so on.

“We try to be solutions oriented and not sit back and wait for the architect to figure it out. So we really liked this work. It was unique and challenging, and that’s what we look for in our projects.”

Jody Andrews

Manager, SEFC and Olympic Village Project Office
City of Vancouver 2005-2009

The original manager of the City’s SEFC Project Office, Jody Andrews task was to move a grand vision into reality. This meant clarifying relationships, responsibilities and priorities across a multi-disciplinary team to develop eight city blocks on a high profile site in three short years – with the world watching.

Roger Bayley, principal of Merrick Architecture and Design Manager for Millennium Water, says Andrews established the collaboration and sustainability ethics that underpinned the project.

“Jody was very even-handed and aware of what people were dealing with,” says Bayley. “He was astute at managing priorities to deliver what the City wanted: innovation and exploration of how to build a better community, a sustainable community. I have immense respect for his passion and energy.”

“Jody played a significant role in launching this project,” says Shahram Malek of Millennium. “He is as passionate about human and ecological aspects as he is about bricks and mortar.”

“Jody Andrews is an elegant manager,” says Scot Hein, Vancouver’s Senior Urban Designer. “He created a project culture that allowed us to do our best. His leadership style resulted in high quality physical results that are a legacy for the City.”

“People loved working with him,” says Robin Petri, SEFC Manager of Development for the City of Vancouver. “The project wouldn’t be what it is today without Jody.”

Scot Hein

Architect and Senior Urban Designer
City of Vancouver

An architect who studied and worked in the US, Scot Hein moved to Vancouver in 1981. When the prospect of inappropriate development loomed nearby – a plan for high towers on Vancouver’s Arbutus Lands in Kitsilano – it sparked his advocacy and call to public service.

“For five years, another architect and I worked collegially with City staff on behalf of fellow neighbours to say, ‘There is a different approach to placemaking that respects prevailing form, scale and character while still accommodating high density,’” recalls Hein. He laughs. “That experience seduced me to the ‘dark side,’ working with the City.”

Hein is now head of the City of Vancouver’s Urban Design Studio, which holds a variety of design, advocacy, planning and management roles. Hein is proud of the design excellence in Olympic Village, and the way the process fostered innovative thinking.

“Despite the aggressive timelines, there was a lot of discipline in the early phases of this project,” he says. “I’d like to think there was an art to shaping the creative process that allowed the designers to distinctively contribute their best towards a larger identity for the village.”

“I pinch myself every day because I probably have the best job an architect practising urbanism could possibly have.”


PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc.

As an architecture student at the University of Oregon, Margot Long took an introductory course in landscape architecture and promptly changed disciplines.

“It was the late 70s, heavy into the environmental movement,” she says, laughing. “And I thought (this is how naive I was), ‘Oh my gosh, they’re not going to be building any more buildings. They’re going to be tearing them down and leaving all these landscapes to deal with – so I should become a landscape architect!’”

Joking aside, Long says landscape architecture also encompassed the challenge that interests her – how to use open space to effectively serve multiple purposes.

“Especially now that our cities are becoming more dense, the spaces between buildings are just so critical, from environmental, social and recreational points of view. Every inch really has to function for a purpose.”

Long’s firm designed the parks, waterfront and most public areas for Olympic Village, combining elements such as native plantings, children’s play areas, restored habitat, an active and accessible waterfront, a stormwater wetland and many references to industrial and ecological heritage.

“This has been so much fun for us,” she says. “It’s been really, really fun.”

Tilo Driessen

Park Planner, Vancouver Park Board

An architect by training, with degrees from the Technical University Munich and UCLA, Tilo Driessen went back to school when a downturn in the real estate market coincided with his rising interest in the development of open space and public lands.

“I was lured in by the Greenways plan being developed for the City of Vancouver,” says Driessen.

“As an architect, I had always worked for private clients. I was intrigued by the idea that as an open space planner, I could work for the public at large. I liked that idea.”

Driessen began studies in landscape architecture at UBC with the goal of becoming a park planner. When an opportunity to work on the Greenways project opened up, he left school and dove into work with the City, eventually landing his current job – in the field he had targeted – with the Vancouver Park Board.

Working on the Olympic Village site was a privilege, says Driessen.

“There were fantastic people working on the project; it was a lively stimulating atmosphere,” he says. “Everybody who worked on it – from the people who conceived the first policies to the people who built it – we all feel a similar sense of pride. It’s a great project.”

Robin Petri, M.Eng., P.Eng., LEED AP

Manager of Development, City of Vancouver SEFC Project Office

Robin Petri has been working on the Southeast False Creek project since 2001. Originally working for the City of Vancouver Engineering Services, Petri was the engineering representative on the technical team that helped create the Official Development Plan for SEFC. She oversaw the four consultant studies (see Chapter Two, Translating Principles to Action) and the Merge Report that developed implementation plans for sustainable design at SEFC. On the topic of sustainability, she hopes that SEFC “is the model (sustainable community) that we envisioned and that we can continue to improve upon our successes,” building upon lessons learned from the first phase of SEFC’s development to push even further in future phases.

Petri is currently Manager of Development at the SEFC Project Office, a role she has held since its inception in 2005. She worked closely with the integrated landscape architecture and engineering team that designed the waterfront, public realm and infrastructure. She says one of the greatest achievements of the project, and one she looks forward to enjoying, is “the public spaces, because they’re public. We work for the public and we’ve created a place – a special place – where all are welcome.”

Bill Donald, P. Eng.

Principal, Keystone Environmental Ltd.

Bill Donald and Keystone Environmental Ltd. joined Millennium’s team during the bid process, bringing expertise in sustainable management options for the site contamination. Keystone Environmental is an eminent environmental consulting firm headquartered in Vancouver. Remediation of this brownfield site was challenged by the stringent timeline. To address this, Donald and his team developed and completed a program to identify all contamination before construction began. Armed with this detailed information, the team was able to facilitate the excavation of over 160,000 cubic metres of material (over two-thirds of which was contaminated or hazardous waste), classifying it for appropriate disposal as excavation proceeded and without delays over a six-month period. For each inch of rainfall, the site generated over 1.5 million litres of water. The Keystone team worked with other team members to manage this water and the related regulatory process, including securing approval (a first in Vancouver) to discharge treated water to False Creek. “We are privileged to be a part of this team,” says Donald, “creating what is arguably the most sustainable community on the continent.”

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