June 2, 2015

IIDA Award Winner: Office of Mcfarlane Biggar Architects + Designers

Nowhere near Edmonton or Calgary, towns in Alberta’s Boreal Forest were barely a blip on the map. Then oil production there upticked. Within a year, the tiny airport saw a 25 percent surge in usage, and the local population is expected to double in the next 15 years. In response to those increases, Steve McFarlane and Michelle Biggar of the Office of McFarlane Biggar Architects + Designers were brought in to replace the terminal with a larger building in harmony with the natural landscape. “The robust pioneering spirit of the area was one of the first things that struck us,” McFarlane says. “This drive to innovate informed our design.”

The result, Fort McMurray International Airport, encompasses 161,000 square feet on three levels. Inside, glue-lam beams and cross-laminated panels in a composite of spruce, pine, and fir exude the warmth of a ski chalet. Oak-veneered panels run horizontally across walls, backdropping check-in counters wrapped in white solid-surfacing, and the terrazzo floor tile reflects the soft glow of the sun through the aluminum-framed curtain wall. Way-finding, minimal yet effective, is weathered steel or black vinyl. Creativity truly takes off with a massive suspended screen of powder-coated steel fins that appear to shift between white and blue, thanks to color-changing LeDs. Arriving passengers may think they’re glimpsing the aurora borealis shining through the forest.

Project Team:
 Rob Grant; Beth Denny; Nicholas Standeven; Jennell Hagardt; Adam Jennings; Heather Maxwell; Hozumi Nakai; Lydia Robinson; Jing Xu; Jordan Vandijk; Mingyuk Chen; Justin Bennett; Seng Tsoi; Simon Clewes; Kevin Kong; Adrienne Gibbs; Nick Foster; Mike Townshend.

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