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Monday, 17 October 2011

A lesson that the airport terminal can teach us

Exterior, Teminal Building

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.

Airport Interior

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.

Airport Interior

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.

3 comments:

Winnipeg Girl said...

It's nice to see someone point out the obvious flaw to building age = importance argument. It was only once it was too late that everybody realized that tearing down all the old 1800's/1900's in the 50's and 60's to (ironically perhaps) build new modern structures perhaps wasn't a great idea.

We are in the exact same predicament now with the MCM architecture. Obviously and unfortunately the airport would be difficult and costly to repurpose, but I also believe they are wanting to get rid of the public safety building because the repair work to the outside is more than the perceived value of the building. Of course 50 years from now everybody is going to look back and say "such a shame we didn't preserve what we had".

Idiots. Sigh. I went to say goodbye to the airport on Saturday - the giant wall art is undoubtedly my favourite part.

Anonymous said...

You want to save the building then put your own money in. Here is hoping they implode it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous: why are you such a douche?