SFU Stadium from the 50-yard line of the field.
Photograph of SFU Stadium from track.

SFU Stadium

Burnaby, British Columbia
A Fine Balance

The opening of the new SFU stadium is the culmination of a vision that was born alongside the founding of the university. Ever since the concrete bleachers in the original development plan were deemed too costly, the campus has been void of this critical community-building space. Recognizing that athletic events only occur 20 days out of the year, our intent was to design an outdoor gathering space for both formal and informal uses, providing a variety of gathering and viewing opportunities to allow students the freedom to enjoy events as they decide. The natural slope from the athletics complex down to the field was the perfect location for the new stadium with 1,823 formal seats and over 300 informal seats to enjoy events and socialize at Terry Fox Field.

The expansive cantilevered roof, which covers over half the seating, integrates a press box at the terrace level with washrooms, service spaces, and the football locker room located below.

Photograph of SFU Stadium from the 50-yard line of the field at dusk with
The warmth of wood from the canopy contrasts the concrete of much of the surrounding campus.
“Whether you see the place in the rain, a beautiful sunny day, or if it’s at night…it just looks awesome.”


A view of the stadium from the terrace level showing the informal seating area and ramp in the foreground.
The ramp not only provides accessibility but also offers an alternate seating and gathering space.
A Magical Experience

The primary design element is the cantilevered roof canopy over the centre section of seats. Respecting the dominance of the adjacent Lorne Davies Complex, the canopy form is syncopated with its rhythm. To emphasize the viewing experience for the spectators, the structure was deliberately minimized, and all of the services are integrated into the canopy. The intent is to make the canopy as thin as possible to create the impression that the expansive cantilever floats above the seats. With unobstructed views out to the field and into the stands, our design creates a magical experience for both spectator and athlete.

View of the field from the terrace level
Unobstructed views out to the field make for a magical spectator experience.
Photograph of back connection of SFU Stadium roof.
Custom pins, rods, drains, and yokes allow the beams
to cantilever 16-metres over the stands.
Making the Magic

Heavy snow loads, large CLT soffit panels with integrated systems, and tight clearances to the adjacent sports complex made engineering, fabrication, and installation of the roof structure particularly challenging. The canopy design pays respect to the athletic and cultural feats that will be viewed on the field. Incredible amounts of practice and training are behind the moments of brilliance spectators will witness on the field. The same sense of magic is captured in the canopy. How can something so large seem to float above the stands?

Massive 22-metre (72 foot), 13-tonne (29,000 pound) box girder beams cantilever 16-metres (54 feet) over the stands supporting the floating roof structure. Stainless steel 228 mm (9 inch) pins and 76 mm (3 inch) rods anchor the beams at their tails and their tapered design allows them to disappear from view creating the impossibly thin look of the roof when viewed from the field.

Drawing detail

View of stadium canopy from lower walkway.


Gathering Places


We designed the Stadium to create a new type of public space on campus. On event days, it is a performance venue that supports a range of viewing experiences, including formal seating for those who want to focus on the game and areas for socializing for those who like to mingle. Outside of event days, it becomes a south-facing outdoor seating area to view athletic or cultural events that supports building community on campus. The covered formal seating under the canopy provides weather protected outdoor space for club or social gatherings, the uncovered formal seating being smaller in scale provides an alternate space, and the terrace, informal ramp seating, and adjacent spaces offer other options for the campus community.

View of covered
View of SFU Stadium from the field.
The floating canopy, press box and variety of seating and gathering options create an opportunity for community-building on campus.
Player walking out from central bay of lockers in the football locker room at SFU stadium.
Player sitting at a locker in the football locker room.
The new locker room for the football team is not only a gathering point, but also a place to celebrate the history and tradition of SFU football.
Elevating the Athlete

To attract and retain athletic talent, the university wanted to enhance the offering to their student athletes. Nested beneath the fans in the stands, a new locker room facility provides the football team a premium space to gather and prepare for competition and provides the university with a new recruitment tool when approaching prospects.

Player walking away from locker in the football locker room at SFU stadium.


Max Richter
Portrait of Jana Foit, Higher Education Practice Leader in the Vancouver studio
Jana Foit