Green and Friendly

Night time showcases the extensive use of glass curtain walls in the new terminal. (All images - WAA)

The Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport’s new passenger terminal is taking the lead in environmental and people-friendly design. Carroll McCormick reports.

Night time showcases the extensive use of glass curtain walls in the new terminal. (All images - WAA)

With an emphasis on energy efficiency, ease of passenger access and room for long-term growth, the Winnipeg Airport Authority (WAA) in Manitoba, Canada, officially opened the doors last October to what it is referring to as its ‘new’ airport.
 
The truly ‘new’ part is the recently completed terminal building.  With 548,960 sq ft (51,000m2) of floor space it can easily accommodate the passenger volume that had the old terminal bursting at the seams: When the previous facility was built in 1964, passenger traffic totalled about 600,000 a year.  By 2010 that had reached 3,369,974 passengers and 136,000 aircraft movements by 19 airlines.  The new terminal, which is designed to accommodate 5 million passengers and a minimum of 1 million meeters and greeters a year, has 11 contact gates for ten Code C and one Code D/E aircraft and seven ground-loading gates; the old terminal had nine jet bridges and one ground loading gate.  The WAA anticipates passenger volumes to reach 4.6 million a year by 2020.
The company acting as the master architect for the project was Pelli Clarke Pelli, in New Haven, Connecticut.  The prime architect was Stantec, which has offices in Winnipeg and Vancouver.  “Stantec and Pelli Clark Pelli put together what we believe is a wonderful design and something that is very appropriate for our community.  The result is an open glass building where the grand check-in hall is replaced by a very open area with kiosks and a lot of self-bag-tagging so that the customer can be in control of their experience,” says Barry Rempel, President & CEO of the WAA.
The price tag for the new terminal, a green field development sited to the northeast of its predecessor, is about CAN$200 million (US$197m).  It is part of a CAN$585 million (US$577m) airport redevelopment, six years in construction and ten years in the planning, that includes a four-storey, 1,600-space car park connected to the terminal by a pedestrian walkway, two-level roadways, a new apron and taxiways.  The work was funded exclusively through Airport Improvement Fees, which were set at CAN$20 (US$19) per passenger ticket in 2008.
Groundside site work included building a new storm water force main system and improving the surface parking and roadways.  Contractors completed a new airside land drainage system in 2008.  The redevelopment also included rehabilitating the central utilities building and constructing a 1,050ft (320m) tunnel through which energy is delivered to the new terminal.
Departing passengers enter on the terminal’s second floor and arriving passengers exit the airport via the floor below; the old terminal had three entry points and congestion on the kerb and passenger flow was a troublesome issue.
Passengers can check in with one of 32 common-use self-serve kiosks.  They then tag their own bags before putting them on the common-use baggage belt.  The new baggage handling system is from Pteris Global Limited.
The terminal uses AirIT’s EASE common-use system for airline ticketing and check-in and the AirIT CUSS Local Departure Control System.  The common-use system allows check-in locations and gates to be used by any carrier, including the airport’s seasonal air charter traffic; charter passengers have the same self-service options as year-round airline passengers.  The baggage handling system is also common use.
The terminal is designed as a series of transparent pavilions that connect all the interior public spaces, as well as connecting it with the prairie landscape and Manitoban sky.  In October last year the WAA installed a permanent collection of commissioned artwork by four renowned artists that reflect the community and the region.
Natural light floods the arrivals area through the roof's many skylights.

Wider passenger circulation corridors, larger boarding lounges and lobby spaces provide more seating and queuing room, improve passenger comfort and reduce peak time congestion.  In fact, the terminal was designed to be more people-friendly through the application of the concept of Universal Design.
 
These Universal Design concepts aim to make the terminal usable for people with many types of disability.  For example, WAA explains: “Elements of the new airport include features such as: rounded or angled corners rather than sharp 90-degree turns for easy navigation; door latch systems are operable with a single closed fist or open hand and no wrist rotation is required; public service counters and video display screens are situated at a height that can accommodate people at a seated height as well as a standing position; all airport alerts and public announcements are accompanied by an audible bell, strobe lights, and visual alerts on video monitors to warn people of safety concerns.”
The WAA also strived to build the new terminal to meet modern environmental and sustainability criteria.  For example, in 2012 it will receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating level of Certified, making it Canada’s first LEED-registered airport terminal.  Natural lighting, which pours in through 55 skylights and a total of 107,640 sq ft (10,000m2) of floor-to-ceiling glass on the groundside and airside reduces the need for electricity for lighting.  Sunshades and a glass etching process called ‘fritting’ control heat gain through the windows.  This provides passive solar control, reduces glare and diffuses light.  Radiant floor heating warms the terminal in the winter.  In the summer, cold water can be pumped through the floors, helping them absorb the heat from the sun where it shines on the floors.  The heating/ventilation/air conditioning system distributes air at a lower height than the more typical, but less efficient, ceiling height.  The terminal’s efficiency rating exceeds Canada’s Model National Energy Code for Buildings by 25%.
The LEED-registered terminal and its sustainability features attracted the attention of the Chicago Department of Aviation, which, last October, awarded the WAA one of six Airports Going Green awards; the other recipients were the Hartsfield-Jackson, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver and Ithica Tompkins Regional airports and United Airlines.  The award recognises the value of airport projects and leadership in pursuit of sustainability in the aviation industry.
Common-use check-in desks and kiosks, self-tagging of baggage, and baggage belts improve passenger flow and flexible use of the terminal.

“Our objective is to minimise impacts on the environment from development and daily operations through continuous improvement of environmental performance in a manner consistent with our overall mission and goals,” Mr Rempel says.
 
In a departure from the groundside-centric concessions layout in the old terminal, most of the concessions in the new facility are located on the airside.  Master concessionaire The Paradies Shops is responsible for retail operations, including PGA Tours, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Toad Hall Toys Inc and CNBC News.  Master concessionaire SSB Canada oversees the food and beverage services, including three Tim Hortons, two TGI Fridays, Stella’s Café and Bakery, Salisbury House, Upper Crust Bakery and Gondola Pizza; the airport lists 20 F&B and retail shops in the new terminal.
Other passenger amenities include free WiFi and charging stations for electronic devices, a Traveller’s Aid Kiosk on the departures level, automatic teller machines throughout the terminal, an airport chapel and Goldwing & Silverwing Ambassadors to provide assistance to passengers.  There is also a Valet and Away service for parking cars and later retrieval – with wash, oil change and dry cleaning completed, if requested.
Work on demolishing the old terminal is due to start this year and the site will be added to some 800 acres (324 ha) of airport land available for development.