The days are numbered for the old Winnipeg International Airport terminal. In fact, it has been living on borrowed time for about a year due to construction delays. Despite a recent publicity campaign to save the building, it will likely prove a case of too little too late.
For one, it's a very use-specific building that isn't easily convertible to another, like a warehouse or office building would be. Such a project would be huge and if the will (and pocketbooks) of politicians and the owners are not in it, nothing will happen.
Also, to line up the type of support and alternative visions needed, this campaign needed to peak five or so years ago when the planning, (and doling out of money and planning permission), for the new terminal and airport district were in their early stages.
I do think it's a shame that we will loose what is one of the jewels of our mid-century architecture. Its loss, though, points out a hard lesson that hopefully can be learned from.
For decades, the fight for buildings with significant heritage and / or architectural value has been concentrated on a narrow era in a small geographic area. Meanwhile, those beyond the 19-teens in other parts of the city have been ignored. A check of the city's historic building inventory or the Heritage Winnipeg historic buildings gallery will attest to this.
This lack of knowledge about these buildings means that advocating for them will almost always be last minute, if not after the fact, which is a bad option for everyone involved.
The city, building owners and advocates of these structures need to move beyond 1915 and start identifying and treating the gems of this era with the same ongoing time, attention and concern. If not, we may loose a generation of architecture from our urban landscape.
Winnipeg International Airport (source)In the days ahead I will be posting a look back at both the construction of the airport terminal and some of the funky art that has graced it over the years.