City of Richmond No 2 Road North Drainage Pump Station

When this drainage pump station needed upgrades, the project team enlisted a local artist to design a solution that’s as artistic as it is functional.

The No.2 North Drainage Pump Station in Richmond, BC is one of 39 pump stations in the city’s drainage system. The stations are being upgraded to cope with rising sea levels and increased storm frequency and duration due to climate change, as well as increased urban development in the catchment. After the upgrade, the station now has a pumping capacity of 4,700 litres per second, compared to the original capacity of 1,900 litres per second.

Aesthetics and public space improvements have featured strongly in the city’s recent pump station upgrades. For the No. 2 Road Drainage Pump Station, the city sought to go one step further. Public art was integrated into the whole design process, with local Vancouver-based artist Germaine Koh forming part of the design team.

The structure was designed to be a piece of functional art. Structural, geotechnical, mechanical and electrical disciplines worked together to make the artistic concept a reality. The result was a glass-walled building showcasing the system’s controls and emergency generator, and inviting the public to connect with the purpose and functionality of the station, as well as with the various types of water interacting with the station.

The pump station is located near the No.2 Road bridge, which connects the City of Richmond to the Vancouver International Airport. The station is also close to the Richmond Oval, the River Green hi-rise development, and the City’s commercial centre. The dike itself is a very popular trail for walkers, joggers and cyclists.

Project Cost
$4,000,000 $4,000,000
Original capacity
1,900 litres p/s 1,900 litres p/s
Upgrade Capacity
4,700 litres p/s 4,700 litres p/s

Key technical challenges

Major ground improvements were required to protect the dike in the vicinity of the station. To meet this need, densification was achieved with timber piles.

To provide an uncluttered view of the pump controls, a below-ground level was designed for HVAC and electrical conduits. The lower level houses the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, conveys surface drainage and protects the station’s electrical connections during a seismic event.

The entire load of the roof needed to be supported by a single column in the centre of the building. The center of this column was also a duct for the control room intake.

The site was confined by River Road to the south and an environmentally sensitive area of the Fraser River foreshore to the north.

The structural design of the roof required finite element analysis due to the unique shape, in line with the building’s architectural theme referencing the history of aviation in the area.


Public interaction

A line of custom-fabricated steel columns extends along the axis of the building, the Fraser River and the pedestrian path. The columns feature samples of the different types of water on the site: city drainage water, silty Fraser River water, saline Georgia Strait water, rainwater collected from the roof, and municipal drinking water. Each of these water sources is showcased visibly within its own column behind tempered glass, with labels that identify each source.