Machine age hydroelectric station in BC being upgraded for the future
Mike Mammone wrote this on Sep 30, 2014

The Ruskin Generating Station is a 1930’s Art Deco facility providing clean, dependable power to British Columbia. Major upgrades to the machine age facility will increase operational efficiency, rehabilitate the aging exterior and the addition of numerous ancillary buildings and elements critical to modern operations.  The most critical component of planning is the seismic upgrade to the powerhouse and spillway that will enable the station to withstand a 1-in-10,000 year seismic event.

RATIO has been working with key stakeholders and BC Hydro since 2006 on all aspects of the project including site development and open space planning, heritage restoration and rehabilitation, interior space planning, landform elements unique to the dam and the surrounding area and a unique First Nations story along the new spillway and bridge deck. RATIO is proud to work with BC Hydro and its team on this significant piece of British Columbia’s industrial and architectural heritage. BC Hydro has an  interesting  (and brief) video on the project. This work continues a long line of prominent portfolio of industrial and hydroelectric projects RATIO has been involved in including Revelstoke, Kootenay Canal and Peace Canyon Dams and Generating Stations.

Interesting factoid: the Ruskin control room contains a light bulb that has worked since the plant started operation in 1930!

Construction began in the spring of 2011 and is well underway. All work is currently scheduled for completion by should be completed in 2017/2018.

There are four major components to the upgrade to Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse:

Reinforcement of the west bank: The right bank of the dam will be reinforced with a specially-designed cut-off wall which will control and manage seepage.

Dam upgrades: six new piers and five new spillway gates will be installed, which are constructed to withstand a significant earthquake. A two-lane road and pedestrian walkway will also be constructed on top of the dam.

Powerhouse update: The building will get a seismic upgrade, the aging equipment will be replaced, and the heritage façade will be restored.

Switchyard relocation: A new switchyard will be built on the east bank, behind the powerhouse

The final result will be a testament to BC Hydro’s commitment to providing clean dependable hydroelectric energy to British Columbians. It sets  a tremendous example that celebrates the early machine age industrial architecture of this province’s hydroelectric projects. As well, this work demonstrates a socially responsible commitment to local and First Nations residents. The Ruskin site has played a significant role  in the history of British Columbia and surrounding local area.

More Ruskin project  details here.