TED builds 1,200-seat theatre inside Vancouver Convention Centre ballroom (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

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TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre

The official TED Talks has built an elaborate 1,200-seat temporary theatre, modelled after London’s famous Globe Theatre, inside the West Ballroom of the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Construction Time Lapse Video

TED kicked off at 6 p.m. last night when Kevin Olusola, Nicholas Negroponte, Chris Hadfield, Ziauddin Yousafzai, and Mark Ronson took the stage for the week-long event’s first session. Each speaker, some of the world’s most inspirational and brightest individuals, are given 18-minutes to deliver their ‘talk’ to the audience.

Both the speakers and the 1,200 in attendance are among the world’s most influential movers and shakers. Some of this year’s top speakers include Bill and Melinda Gates, Sting, Zak Ebrahim, Rob Knight, Randall Monroe, Yoruba Richen, Wendy Chung and Chris Kluwe. Security is tight around the building with the strong presence of security personnel and the erection of high security fencing lining the building along Canada Place Way.

With the possible exception of the 2010 Winter Games, when the convention centre was converted into the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press for Olympic accredited media, the custom-built TED theatre goes far beyond the scope of any previous event held inside the 2009-built facility.

The 52,668 square foot West Ballroom is one of the largest in Canada and has held many events throughout its first five years, but it has never been temporarily modified in such a significant way. Contractors began building the enormous wood theatre just five days ago and made their finishing touches on Sunday evening.

It was designed by New York-based Rockwell Group and uses 8,000 structural timber pieces with the assistance of a computer-aided cutting machine – all shipped to the convention centre on 50 trucks. The theatre has a strong smell of pine as it was built of locally harvested Douglas Fir trees.

Renderings of the TED Theatre.
TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre
Image: Rockwell Group

TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre
Image: Rockwell Group

Swiss exhibition construction company NUSSLI assisted with the logistics required for the precise hour-by-hour loading given the extremely tight and risky construction schedule. The timber pieces were assembled as individual boxes measuring 10′ x 12′ x 20′ and can be dissembled, stored and reused again for future TED events.

The theatre is a half-circle shape and allows delegates to see and engage with each other while watching a speaker give their talk instead of being oriented squarely ahead as in previous California venues. There are 13 flexible upright seat, sofa or standing options for delegates to choose from.

It is a modern take on the famed Shakespearean Globe Theatre and maximizes the impact of talks, permits multiple configurations for sitting, listening and connecting with the speaker. It is a venue that delivers “both scale and intimacy,” according to TED organizers.

Before

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Image: Vancouver Convention Centre

After

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Image: Ryan Lash/TED

Most of the meeting space at the West Building is being used for TED as its programming goes far beyond the talks inside the theatre to include workshops, exhibits and social areas.

The custom-built theatre is also a big first for TED which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week with “The Next Chapter” as its motto. Prior to February 2013’s announcement of Vancouver’s designation as the event’s third home in its history, TED Talks were held at the 1,400-seat Long Beach Performing Arts Centre and before that at a small 500-seat venue in Monterey, California.

Outside the convention centre, a 745-foot long privately funded aerial art piece created by Massachusetts artist Janet Echelman and Google Creative Labs’ Aaron Koblin is suspended over Canada Place Way to mark TED’s presence in the city. Visitors walking underneath can change the art piece’s nighttime lighting in real time by physically waving their mobile devices.

The application and invitation-only event also comes with a hefty $7,500 delegate fee. For locals, 24 locations across the province are live stream screening the talks for free public viewing. This includes libraries, universities, the jumbotron at Terry Fox Plaza outside BC Place Stadium and even the Grouse Mountain chalet.

Following the conference, the talks will be uploaded to TED’s YouTube channel for the global audience to view.

Building the TED Theatre at the Vancouver Convention Centre

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Image: Mike Femia / TED

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Image: Mike Femia / TED

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Image: Mike Femia / TED

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Image: Mike Femia / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre
Image: Creative Chiang Mai

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Image: Creative Chiang Mai

Day 1, Session 1 – Liftoff!

Click on panorama to enlarge.
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Image: @wallshine

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Image: @philmckinney

Ziauddin Yousafzai
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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Janet Echelman
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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Chris Hadfield
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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Richard Saul Wurman and Chris Anderson
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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Kevin Olusola
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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Mark Ronson
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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: @dkokbrooklyn

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Image: @dkokbrooklyn 

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Image: TED

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Image: TED 

Outside the TED Theatre

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Image: Mike Femia / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: Mike Femia / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: Angie Holubowich

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Image: Bret Hartman / TED

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Image: Mike Femia / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

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Image: James Duncan Davidson / TED

 “Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks” by Janet Echelman

TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre
Image: Bret Hartman / TED

TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre
Image: Bret Hartman / TED

TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre
Image: Bret Hartman / TED

TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre
Image: Bret Hartman / TED

TED Theatre Vancouver Convention Centre
Image: Bret Hartman / TED

Featured Image: Ryan Lash/TED

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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