“Transport Canada has submitted the Main Terminal Building of the former Winnipeg International Airport, now named the James Armstrong Richardson International Airport to the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office (FHBRO) for formal evaluation because the Winnipeg Airport Authority (WAA) proposes to demolish the main terminal with the intention of completing a new facility."(1)
The Department of Transport (DOT) created a terminal building program across the country in the 1950’s and 60’s to improve safety and reflect Canadians growing self-awareness and confidence. It saw 8 large-scale modernist air terminals built by prominent Canadian architects. The terminals integrated Canadian artworks and were furnished with Canadian designed furniture. The program captured the federal governments support due to its intention of introducing passengers to a new image of modern Canada from the moment they entered the terminal building.
Winnipeg’s most prominent post-war [architectural] firm, Green, Blackstein and Russell (GBR) designed the Main Terminal Building in Winnipeg for DOT between 1961-64, during the boom time period of Winnipeg’s Post-war growth. A major renovation was done in 1984-86 by IKOY architectural partnership, which remained sensitive to the original design while altering interior spaces and circulation patterns.
The modernist aesthetic and adaptability of the Main Terminal Building is a result of its simplistic form and function design found throughout its materials and layout. The Mies van der Rohe inspired design of the terminal took David Thordarson and Bernard Brown (the principle designers from GBR) nearly 3 years to complete. The terminal building is a powerful interior space rooted in local materials. It became a type of regional expression “[symbolizing] the aspirations and cultural production of Canada in the post-Second World War era”(6).
The key architectural features include:
Sources: Waldron, A. Air Terminal Building: James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. Historical Services Branch. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office
For Current Issues regarding the Main Terminal Building please consult the WAA website.
The James Armstrong Richardson International Airport made Heritage Canada's Top Ten Endangered Places List of 2008.
Through the Parks Canada National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing Program, the Government of Canada has invested an additional $425,000 towards Red River College’s continued restoration of the Former Union Bank Building. Mr. Rod Bruinooge, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South stated that the conservation work done on the building will contribute to the historic sense of place of the Exchange District.
The historic skyscraper banking hall located at Main Street and William Avenue is being converted into Red River’s culinary school, a restaurant and more than 100 student residences.
The money will be used to help restore many of the historic doors and windows of the bottom three floors as well as assist in the renovation costs of the front foyer and banking hall. Conservation work will also be done on the historic Annex.
The building is slated to reopen in 2011 for the first time since the last bank moved out in 1992.
The cost-sharing program is also contributing $32,000 to the Gault Building to preserve the roof fence. The President of Artspace Inc., Cecilia Araneda, stated that the restoration will allow its character to grace the Winnipeg Skyline for generations.
Sources: (2010, July 29). Government of Canada invests in heritage infrastructure in the Exchange District National Historic Site.
For more information on the restoration and conversion of the Union Bank Tower click on one of the three Winnipeg Free Press articles below.