Olympic Village at False Creek
The Millennium Development Group built Vancouver Olympic Village for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The site, long ago an industrial area, later mostly a parking lot, is on the shoreline of the southeast corner of False Creek north of 2nd Avenue in the two blocks between Quebec and Manitoba streets immediately south of Science World. Its waterfront is part of the False Creek Seawall promenade and bicycle trail to Granville Island, to Aquabus and False Creek Ferry wharves, and to the Main Street and Olympic Village SkyTrain stations.
Construction at the site began in February 2006 and ended in November 2009, when the Vancouver Organizing Committee took it over for the Winter Games and returned it in April 2010 to the City of Vancouver for eventual conversion to residential housing use with a community centre and daycare, retail, and service spaces.
Part of Olympic Village was Canada’s first residential multi-unit Net Zero Building that generates as much energy as it uses. The designers cut conventional energy consumption to a small fraction by use of solar access and shading, natural cross-ventilation, triple-glazed windows, and excellent insulation. Energy meters in each suite encourage further cuts by showing how much energy is in use, and a heat recovery system transfers waste heat from an adjoining building. Two rooftop solar installations supply the rest of the building’s energy.
After a series of cost overruns, the Mayor of Vancouver requested from the British Columbia provincial government authority for the city to borrow additional funds to complete construction. In January 2009, an emergency session of the BC Legislature granted the City of Vancouver unlimited access to such additional funds for Olympic Village. The authorization was unusual in that the original charter for the Olympics prohibited such additional borrowing without a public referendum. Thus did the city require extraordinary legislation to allow it to borrow to meet its financial commitments. In April 2014, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported that the City of Vancouver finally had retired the debt it assumed when it took over the Olympic Village project from the bankrupt Millennium Development Group.
Of the legacies of the 2010 Winter Games, Olympic Village was the most uncertain; however, it has achieved a transformation since pre-Olympic times as a result of long-term vision, smart design, and careful planning. Olympic Village is now a most enviable residential district. Olympic Village condo units are among the most attractive in the city. At the foot of False Creek, this prime location has been fundamentally instrumental to the project’s ultimate success. Olympic Village has superlative views of Downtown and its North Shore Mountain backdrop and everything residents need in shops, cafés, restaurants, parks, and daycare within a few blocks.
The 2010 Olympic buildings are now residential housing for families. By 2020, if official plans prevail, Olympic Village will have 5,000 affordable residential housing units. Olympic Village is a mixed-use community of about 1,100 residential units, 252 of which are affordable housing and another 100 modest market. Modest market housing is for residents unable to pay market rents. The Olympic Village cooperative, Athletes Village, is an 84-unit building of market and modest market housing.