A new wave of construction was inspired by the formation of the Department of Transport in 1937 and the inauguration of TRANS-CANADA AIRLINES (now AIR CANADA) in 1937. Dorval Airport (1940-41) near Montréal represented the new breed of airports. The passenger terminal, now separate from the hangar, featured a ticket lobby and general waiting area, not unlike the familiar arrangement of a RAILWAY STATION. Passengers left the terminal and walked onto the apron to board their airplanes. The control tower was generally integrated into the terminal building.
The Department of Transport introduced the severe International Style in its airports of the 1950s, as did the Department of Public Works with other public buildings. Two of the more distinguished were Ottawa International Airport (Gilleland and Strutt, with Department of Transport architect W.A. Ramsay, 1955-60), with passenger-handling areas located to either side of a central waiting area and a control tower above; and the larger Winnipeg International Airport (Green, Blankstein and Russell, with W.A. Ramsay, 1960-64). Montréal International Airport-Dorval (Illsley, Templeton, Archibald, and Larose and Larose, 1956-60; now Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport) had, in addition to "fingers" against which the airplanes docked, a remote quay linked to the main terminal by an underground moving sidewalk.
The 1960s and 1970s encouraged experiments in improving passenger convenience. Terminal 1 at Toronto-Lester B. Pearson International Airport (John B. Parkin Associates, with W.A. Ramsay, 1962-64), the only one of four intended identical "aeroquays" to be built, was circular in plan, to provide the maximum perimeter space for aircraft while offering a short walk for passengers. A large parking garage was an integral component, and the administration building and control tower were separate structures. Mirabel Airport (Papineau, Gérin-Lajoie, LeBlanc, Edwards, 1970-75; passenger service discontinued 2004) near Montréal is shallow in plan so that passengers needed to walk only a short distance to the departure dock to board wheeled passenger transfer vehicles that transported them to the airplanes.
Vancouver International Airport (Thompson, Berwick and Pratt, 1968; now the Domestic Terminal) and Calgary International Airport (Stevenson, Raines, Barret, Hutton, Seton and Partners, 1977) have a more conventional plan, with a 3-storey central terminal area leading to fingers at either side. The Calgary terminal was built to accommodate future expansion. The somewhat futuristic Vancouver design broke away from the international style and set the trend for bold and often curvilinear solutions.
These and other airports have been subject to a rash of modifications and additions to accommodate larger aircraft, increased flights, and ever more complex technical requirements. Most incorporate security barriers, remote lounges, loading bridges, customs and immigration areas, and commercial concessions. When added to earlier airports, the original clarity of their design was obscured. At Ottawa International Airport (renovations by Murray and Murray, Griffiths and Rankin, 1984-87; new terminal by Brisbin Brook Benyon and Architectura, 2002-03) the architects imposed an assertive new design, whereas at Winnipeg International Airport (The IKOY Partnership, 1985-87), the new work carefully respected the original International Style. Both airports include significant parking structures.
The governance and design of airports changed with the federal government's decision to relinquish control of them. Between 1992 and 1997, community-based, self-financing, not-for-profit corporations took over management and operation of Canada's airports from the Department of Transport under long-term leases. Most have undertaken extensive capital improvements, supplementing revenues from landing, terminal, and parking fees by levying airport improvement fees and, most importantly, by providing passengers and staff with extensive - and lucrative - retail and service facilities.
The Vancouver International Airport Authority, formed in 1992, led the way. The new International Terminal (Architectura with HNTB Corporation, 1994-96, and subsequent additions) features high ceilings, glazed walls, exposed metal structural elements, elevated walkways with extensive views inside and out, and an impressive collection of works by BC First Nations artists. The Domestic Terminal (1968) has been extensively renovated (Kasian Kennedy), with a large departures area the central feature. The two terminals together have more than 110 concessions, including shops, restaurants, health-care clinics, other services, and a 392-room hotel, becoming a significant SHOPPING CENTRE in its own right.
Airports at smaller cities have similarly undergone continual expansion and replacement. Saskatoon Airport began in 1928 as the home of a flying club, and grew in the 1930s and 1940s with the arrival first of commercial and then military air service. In 1955 the Department of Transport built a Modernist terminal, whose successful design was later reused by the Department of Transport at Québec and Windsor. It in turn was replaced in 1975 (Holiday-Scott), and has recently been expanded as John G. Diefenbaker International Airport (Kindrachuk Agrey, 2000-02), with a curved and extensively glazed exterior design, and the interior spaces are far more spacious than before.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority has leveraged the new sources of revenue to fund a $4.4 billion redevelopment of Pearson International Airport. New Terminal 1 (Airports Architects Canada, a joint venture of Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Adamson Associates, and Moshe Safdie Associates, begun 1999, Phase 1 completed 2004), described as Canada's largest construction project, is a tour de force that displays a bold, curvilinear form with large spaces and long, arched roof spans - a geometry reminiscent of the 1960s building it replaced. Similar to the Vancouver terminal, with light and spacious interiors, finished in white, soft greys and brushed aluminum and punctuated with high-tech details, it has a very conspicuous retail presence. Ironically, the reduction in passenger travel that followed the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, the SARS outbreak of 2003, and the consequent financial crises faced by Air Canada and other major carriers, threaten the financial viability of the large, new Toronto and Vancouver airports.
Author HAROLD D. KALMAN
Links to Other Sites
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
RAIC is the voice for architecture and its practice in Canada. It provides the national framework for the development and recognition of architectural excellence. Check out information about career opportunities in architecture and the "Professional Interest" section for a multimedia feature about health care architecture.
An extensive photographic survey of Canadian architecture. Search by building type, architect, location or date. From the Department of Fine Art, University of Toronto.
Canadian Institute of Steel Construction
This website illustrates the use of steel in major construction projects across Canada. Includes pictures of office buildings, airports, cultural facilities and more. From the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction.
Canadian Architectural Archives
An online archive featuring profiles of prominent Canadian architects and images of selected works. From the University of Calgary.
This website offers a few definitions and drawings to help you better understand some of the technical vocabulary used in architecture. From “Once upon a Roof,” a Virtual Museum of Canada website.
The Roadshow: Architectural Landscapes of Canada
An article about "The Roadshow," a series of national events that explore contemporary ideas about the nature of “Canadian architecture” and related concepts. Click on the link at the bottom of the page to view videos of the presentations. From "Canadian Architect."
Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
See a CBC slide show featuring scenes of the new terminal at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.
Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
Take a virtual tour of the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.
Engineering Harmonics Inc.
A Canadian company that provides services related to the design of performance sound, video and communications systems for major architectural projects. Click through the website for interior views of private and public sector facilities they have worked on in Canada and the US.