Here is a look back at memories of the terminal, including an interview with Bernard Brown, one of the original designers, and excellent archival footage of famous landings at the airport. The video is about 3 minutes.
Here is a documentary CBC did on the airport when it first opened in 1964. About 12 minutes long.
Winnipeg's modernist air terminal is in danger of demolition once the new terminal opens at the end of October. Heritage Winnipeg has been advocating for its preservation and adaptive re-use. The threat to the Winnipeg Airport terminal has been getting a lot of media attention this week. Below are a few of the highlights.
CBC has an online poll asking whether the 1964 air terminal is worth saving. Please take a moment to vote here.
Gordon Sinclair, Jr. wrote a column in the Winnipeg Free Press: "Why Our Terminal Shouldn't Be Terminated"
Read the article here.
Elizabeth Fleming also had an article in the Winnipeg Free Press's View from the West: "Don't Rush To Demolish Heritage"
Read the article here.
Terry MacLeod interviewed Arni Thorsteinson of Shelter Canadian Properties on CBC Information Radio. Mr. Thorsteinson spoke about a proposal by Shelter Canadian to use part of the air terminal for commercial space and to renovate part of it to house the Western Canada Aviation Museum.
Listen to the interview here.
Steven Stothers has dug up a 1964 article on the Winnipeg air terminal, as well other modernist terminals in Canada, from Canadian Arts magazine. It provides some perspective on the impact of the art and architecture of the terminal when it was originally built.
Check it out here.
We will keep you posted on further developments regarding the 1964 Winnipeg air terminal. Don't forget to vote in the CBC poll!
Heritage Winnipeg and the Manitoba Historical Society are asking: Why do they want to demolish one of Canada's finest examples of 20th-century architecture?
Our organizations are working together to ensure that the heritage value of the Terminal to Winnipeg and Canada is given full and proper consideration, and that, as a federal building originally commissioned as part of an iconic group of architecturally significant buildings, any process for change is transparent and involves the public.
The WAA, Transport Canada and the Federal Government have left the public in the dark so far. Why did the Federal Government halt a heritage assessment of the building in 2008? Why did the WAA reject a redevelopment proposal involving Shelter Canadian Properties Ltd., Huntingdon Real Estate, and the Western Aviation Museum? Why has there been no further redevelopment effort? The WAA claims that the building is in poor shape. Can they document this? Why would they and Transport Canada neglect the terminal for so many years?
Why so many unanswered questions and unexplained actions? This is an important building to Winnipeg and to Canada's aviation history. Why keep the public in the dark?
Heritage Winnipeg has sent a communiqué to the media in order to bring this issue to the attention of the community.
Winnipeg Airport Communiqué
For more background information:
Winnipeg Airport Background
The Shanghai Restaurant Building (originally the Robert Block and later the Coronation Block) was built in 1883 as a mixed-use development with commercial space at grade and offices and residential suites above. The stone and Brick structure occupies the full city block on King Street between Alexander Avenue and Pacific Avenue. From 1883-86 the mayor and city hall occupied the main floor while the “gingerbread” city hall building was being constructed. The Shanghai Restaurant took residence in the main level in the 1940’s.
The Historical Buildings Committee recommended that the building be placed on the Heritage Conservation List as a Grade III heritage structure based solely on its age, architectural and historical significance.
City council’s Executive Committee disregarded HBC’s recommendation due to the 128-year-old building’s “questionable long term economic viability” and voted unanimously to demolish. The demolition permit will be issued when Chinatown Development Corporation has prepared a firm redevelopment proposal –for the proposed senior’s assisted living complex- and has made a formal application for a building permit. CDC’s plan to demolish the building for a revenue generating parking lot has been denied.
Through 40 years of neglect the second floor has been destroyed from severe water damage due to lack of heat and roof failure.
The building has been deemed structurally unsound and economically unviable to repair by Ray Wan –architect working on the CDC’s development - despite no official documentation or engineering report and disputation by the HBC.
The CDC has been questioned on why they have chosen this specific location for their project as it is surrounded by vacant land. The loss of this restaurant is seen by many to be a blow to the neighborhood and downtown.
The Heritage Canada Foundation posted their 2010 Top Ten Endangered Places List. They have recognized the immense pressure of development that faces the Exchange District National Historic Site and its periphery. Heritage Winnipeg along with Heritage Canada are very concerned for decisions that have been made regarding the historic and architectural content of the District. Heritage Winnipeg continues to advocate for a more transparent process to allow stakeholders an opportunity to be involved in the decision making process, and in addition to change committee structures that have not benefited the national historic site.
For Heritage Canada Foundation's Endangered Places List of 2010 click here.
“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.