When the decision was made to pursue development of The Eye of the Wind, everyone who was aware of the project felt an instant sense of both exhilaration and anticipation. How many people, in their lifetimes, have the chance to become part of a world first?
Artists’ renderings had done a great job of faithfully depicting what the mighty tower would look like from various vantage points in the Lower Mainland. But no one could quite fathom how majestic and inspiring the completed tower with its graceful blades would be.
There were some intriguing logistical challenges to overcome given the widespread points of origin of the turbine’s components, the size of many of those components, and the unusualness of The Eye of the Wind’s mountaintop location, 1,231 metres (4,039 feet) above the City.
These were some of the key construction milestones:
(please also visit our video gallery to view the full construction)
- Foundation Assembly: The foundation for the structure was the first construction phase for The Eye of the Wind. The foundation is a 2-metre high, 8-metre wide octagonal concrete base with anchors imbedded deep into the bedrock, some as deep as 15 metres.
- Wind Turbine Blade Transportation: The most logistically complex task was the transportation of the three 37.3 metre long blades which journeyed via freighter from Europe to the South Surrey Docks. The blades were transferred to barge and tugged to Indian Arm. Finally, a giant Sky Crane helicopter air-lifted the blades to the Peak of Grouse Mountain.
- Tower Section Transportation: The wind turbine tower was manufactured in Washington State in three sections. Each section is close to 20 metres long and made from structural steel weighing up to 45,454 kg per section. The tower sections were transported via special low-bed trailers along expressways and city roads and finally navigated at a walking pace up Grouse Mountain’s winding 13km back road.
- viewPOD™ Assembly: The custom viewPOD™ was designed and manufactured in France. It was transported by freighter to the east coast of Canada and rode a train to Vancouver. This steel and glass capsule was assembled on the ground before being lifted into place.
- Crane Assembly: To prepare for construction the LR1280 crane had to be brought to the project site via 17 separate truck loads. It was assembled on the ground, alongside what would be The Eye of the Wind, over a period of three days. This monster crane is able to lift 300 tons and has a 90-metre boom.
- Structure Erection: The assembly of the structure took place over three days. Each component was individually lifted by the crane and then bolted into place. The three tower sections were lifted first, followed by the viewPOD, the wind turbine machine carrier, the generator and finally the blades. The blades were pre-assembled to the centering hub and lifted as one unit.
- Post Construction Work: The months following construction saw the installation of the elevator inside the tower and the completion of the electrical components of the project. These steps transformed The Eye of the Wind from a collection of parts to a highly animated, fully-functioning natural attraction.