Building Works of Art – Bloedel Conservatory Roof Replacement

Project Duration: January – July 2014

The Bloedel Conservatory is home to 200 free-flying exotic birds and 500 exotic plants and flowers. Surrounded by Queen Elizabeth Park’s lush gardens, it’s more than a small jungle oasis in a Canadian city. It’s a popular Vancouver tourist attraction that has become a landmark over the past 45 years.

Spectrum maintained and repaired the dome’s panels for more than a decade until 2014, when the entire roof – consisting of 1488 uniquely shaped acrylic domes had to be replaced. Because of our experience with the conservatory, we knew we had the creative ideas and skills to handle such a complicated job.

The replacement, estimated to take nine months, had several challenges that Spectrum, as the general contractor, successfully overcame in order to finish the job three months ahead of schedule.

Overcoming Obstacles

Challenge: The conservatory had to remain open during the entire roof replacement. Bloedel staff were concerned that if the building closed for nine months, people would forget about it. Leaving the conservatory open was the only option.

Solution: Spectrum organized the roof replacement so the building only had to close for two days during the entire process: the day the support beams were put up and the day they were taken down.

Challenge: The Bloedel Conservatory is a contained, living ecosystem. It would not be possible to relocate the more than 200 birds and 500 plants and flowers that live there.

Solution: Spectrum developed a plan to cover the entire conservatory in scaffolding and then install netting inside the dome to protect the plants and birds from falling debris and also prevented wild birds, like crows, from getting inside.

Challenge: Bloedel’s plants need sunlight to survive, so we had to find a way to scaffold the building without impeding daylight.

Solution: We had special, clear roof covering panels designed and shipped from China.

Challenge: Bloedel’s dome is made up of more than 1,400 panels of 32 different shapes, so it’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Solution: Spectrum couldn’t use the conservatory’s old drawings to determine the measurements for each panel. In order to ensure the panels fit perfectly together, we measured each piece by hand.

Click on any of these thumbnails below to see the full image.

1-getting started 2-during 3-during 4-after above 5-after closeup