Pounding sound means progress – Convention Centre

Friday, April 29th, 2005

Earplugs on offer

Ashley Ford

CREDIT: Jon Murray, The Province Russ Anthony, right, hands out earplugs to passers-by at waterfront construction site.

That ringing in your ears is the sound of progress.

For those living and working around the $565-million Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project on the waterfront, the relentless pounding of steel upon steel is going to be jarring their ears for the rest of the year. Get used to it!

VCCEP president Russ Anthony, the man in charge of getting the massive project done on time and on budget — so far it is — by 2008, says the “serious” end of the construction is now under way.

That is, the pounding of about 1,000 huge steel piles to depths of between 14 and 55 metres over the next eight months.

That’s what it takes to support the 68,000-square-metre centre that will be roomy enough to host major global conventions.

Anthony, recognizing the sound may annoy some people, handed out earplugs yesterday and will again today, plus pamphlets explaining the process.

“It is part of our good neighbour policy to keep everyone informed about the project and the pile driving,” he said. “We have held public meetings and have sent out newsletters to residents informing them of the process and thanking them for their co-operation.”

Stephen Peters, manager of the Pan Pacific Hotel, which rubs elbows with the site, is not worried by the pounding. “So far the noise is no more of an inconvenience than the seaplanes taking off and landing.”

He added: “We are putting letters in our guest rooms informing them of the project and will either move guests or compensate them if a problem does arise,” Peters said.

Anthony said there will eventually be four pile-drivers on site — but not necessarily all pounding at the same time. “We will be working five days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” he said.

The steel piles come from Japan and will provide a seismically sound foundation. Once driven, the piles are capped and laced together.

Construction of the actual building can then begin. Thousands of densification columns have been driven and concrete caissons to support the extension of the Canada Place road have been poured.

Pile-driving has been completed for an underground parking structure at the west end of the project.

The latest phase of pile-driving will begin at the east end of the site near the existing convention centre and move westward.

The plan is to clear the east side first to accommodate the cruise ships that start arriving at Canada Place next month, Anthony said.

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– Site: 4.5 hectares

– Dimensions: 68,000 square metres

– Cost: $565 million

– Partners: Federal and provincial governments contributing $220.5 million, private sector $90 million and $30 from on-site revenue

– Design: Downs Archambault Architects, Musson Cattell Mackey Partners (Vancouver), LMN (Seattle)

– Pilings: 1,000 main piles and thousands of densification columns

– Jobs: 6,700 person-years during construction; 7,500 full-time jobs when complete

– Economic benefits: Expected to generate $1.5 billion

– Completion: 2008

© The Vancouver Province 2005

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