Life In A Pandemic: A Story Of The Retractable Roof At BC Place

By June 7, 2021July 9th, 2021LEARN

Early in 2020, PFEIFER Structures was contracted to upgrade the electrical control system of the retractable roof atop BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. PFEIFER was tasked with providing new failsafe components, a new control mechanism, and the replacement of expired electrical components. With the new components and systems, the stadium’s retractable roof would be operating with increased efficiency and reliability.

Software development, electrical design, and building a new switch cabinet took place in Austria before installation. The PFEIFER Structures team arrived in Vancouver early in March 2020. The team would stay in Vancouver for five weeks for installation, testing, training, and final commissioning. The first ten days went smoothly. However, the project, along with the world, came to an abrupt halt due to Covid-19.

With countries around the world closing borders, stopping air travel, and going into lockdowns, the PFEIFER Structures team returned home to Austria. After the first lockdown, PFEIFER and BC Place began discussing a plan to complete the project. Thanks to the extraordinary partnership with the client, unusual accommodations were allowed to handle an unprecedented situation.

Canada’s strict 14-day quarantine regulation was a significant roadblock for the Austrian employees at PFEIFER Structures. Both parties agreed that the best solution would be for the PFEIFER Structures team not to quarantine at a hotel in Vancouver, but at the stadium itself! Applications for special isolation plans and working permits, which required quite a lot of paperwork, started.

In September 2020, a reduced team of 4 workers, donning face masks, took a plane to Vancouver. After arriving in Vancouver, the team was picked up by the stadium’s roof operator, Nick, and taken to the stadium. Since Nick was now exposed to travelers from another country, he would also have to quarantine at the stadium. The quarantine area in the stadium was completely restricted from any stadium staff or maintenance crews. The team and Nick were allowed to use parts of the third and fourth floors and the entire roof area. The stadium owners provided beds in 5 VIP Lounges, organized meals to be delivered to the team, and allowed the team to use the players’ locker rooms for showers and personal hygiene. The accommodations were first-class.

pfeifer structures service quarantine

Quarantining at the stadium allowed the team to work with extreme efficiency. There was no time wasted traveling from a hotel to the job site and back, checking in at the job site, or working around other construction teams and trades. The team worked on the stadium roof through the summer sun, winds, and coastal rains. There was no shortage of fresh air and physical activity during this quarantine. The team worked closely together, and a special partnership was formed between the team and Nick. Cabin fever was never an issue amongst the five men.

After the 14-day quarantine was completed, the stadium offered the team to continue living at the stadium until the work was finished, which the team appreciated and accepted. It took exactly 30 days to complete the work that began back in March. The stadium roof is now operating with an upgraded electrical control system, a feat accomplished during an unprecedented pandemic, all thanks to a team willing to make sacrifices and a client ready to make whatever accommodations necessary to the see project to completion.