Sunday, July 27, 2008

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport Part 1

Picture taken by transformerryan of Eli Bornstein's Structurist Relief in Fifteen Parts.

Whew. When you say it aloud, it's a mouthful. I suppose after a while people will just say Richardson International if they're not already.

I think what is surprising to many people is that Winnipeg's airport is Canada's first international airport. Northwest Airlines began their first international flights to Winnipeg in that same year, two years after its start-up. It will be sad to see the Northwest name vanish this year pending their merger with Delta Airlines.

The airport was founded in 1928 and was named Stevenson field. The name came from noted bush pilot Captain Fred J. Stevenson, who flew cargo to remote areas of the province. In 1958, the name was dropped at the behest of the federal government and became Winnipeg International Airport.

The building that everyone is familiar with today is the main terminal which was built in 1964. It was designed by local architects GBR in the International Style and took four years to build.

Of note in the building are two immense pieces of artwork on either end of the terminal. One of the pieces was done artist John Graham. It is an aluminum and Plexiglas mosaic that goes by the name of Northern Lights and is located on the north wall.

(picture from Winnipeg Free Press of John Graham's Northern Lights)

The second piece of art is on the south wall. It is Eli Bornstein's Structurist Relief in Fifteen Parts. It covers 60 sqaure metres and consists of 15 white panels covered in enameled metal cubes.

Neither of these pieces is small enough or for that matter wanted in the new terminal. A few previous pieces of art were moved to the Western Canadian Aviation Museum after the last major renovation of the terminal in the 1980s.

Those pieces consisted of a sculpture originally made for the airport as well as a painting The sculpture was an Anne Kahane's carved wood panel of Frederick Stevenson walking across the field to his plan. The painting was an Alfred Pellan's pieces called The Prairie.

(to be continued)
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