More details released about Celebration Plaza 

Final Lot 1/9 plaza will open to the public in spring 2011

click to enlarge An artistic rendering of what Celebration Plaza will look like in the  spring of 2011. Image by Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, Landscape Architects
  • An artistic rendering of what Celebration Plaza will look like in the spring of 2011. Image by Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, Landscape Architects

During the 2010 Olympics, Celebration Plaza will consist of a large standing area, a massive, temporary stage, one building, and lots of underground infrastructure.

It will not be until after the Games that the plaza will resemble its final design: open grass lawn, amphitheatre seating, expanded children’s play area with water features and performance spaces.

“What is going to be there for the Olympics are many, many things that are underground that people will not see,” said Martin Pardoe, resort parks planner for the municipality.

“Which is in one way unfortunate, but there will be a lot of investment in adequate drainage for the site, site servicing for the municipality’s future needs on the site and for surrounding buildings and for future buildings.”

Some of the stuff installed will include gas, electricity, lighting infrastructure and sound equipment.

Pardoe said these utilities are required by VANOC to pull off “amazing” nightly ceremonies with lots of light and music. He added that the construction plan has been designed so the municipality will be able to capitalize on the underground infrastructure.

“We have been able to tailor our site plan to overlap with their needs and in some cases their locations are adjusted a little bit,” said Pardoe.

“In the long term, when VANOC goes away, we will already have this amazing amount of power infrastructure in the ground where we want it, which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

The reason the green lawn, seen in final design plans for Celebration Plaza, will not be grown until after the Games wrap up is because the land needs to support 8,000 people on it for two weeks straight in February 2010. Instead, a more compact but well drained surface will be installed in a material like concrete, asphalt or gravel.

“You can imagine what 8,000 people on a nice summer day every night for two weeks would do to a lawn, and then factor in that it is the winter,” said Pardoe.

“We don’t want that, VANOC doesn’t want that, and we don’t want the spectators to have that kind of experience.”

Pardoe added that the permanent performance areas will not be built on the site until after the Games.

VANOC’s stage requirements are greater than anything the municipality foresees ever using again, he said, and therefore the Olympic organization will bring in their own temporary stage for 2010.

Celebration Plaza will remain gated throughout the Olympics, and although Games-time programming on the site will be free, spectators will need tickets to enter.

Following the Games it will take about a year to reconfigure the plaza. It will open to the public in the spring of 2011. At that time, it will have three performance venues, amphitheatre seating, two retail buildings, and a lawn two-thirds the size of a soccer field.

The neighbourhood of nations is no longer part of the current plan, Pardoe confirmed.

He added that the municipality cannot show the design of the site for the 2010 Games because those plans are under VANOC’s control. Artistic renderings of the final design, however, are on the municipality’s website.

During the council meeting, Councilor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden stressed that it is important to let the community know what they can expect on the Lot 1/9 site.

“I don’t mean to be critical, but what I do mean to be is realistic,” said Wilhelm-Morden.

“So the community knows what we are getting for the money that is being expended, and when we are going to be getting it.”

Construction on the site began in May this year. And according to Pardoe, the budget for the project is still at $13.6 million, with $4.5 million coming from municipal coffers, $5 million from the federal government and $4.2 million from VANOC.

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