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City airport named among most stylish in the world

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The more than 50 skylights looking down on the arrivals area at James Richardson International helped the airport earn a spot on Fodor's Travel's list of the world's most stylish airports.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The more than 50 skylights looking down on the arrivals area at James Richardson International helped the airport earn a spot on Fodor's Travel's list of the world's most stylish airports. Photo Store

When Winnipeggers fly anywhere around the world, they come and go in style.

James Richardson International has been named one of the 10 most-stylish airports in the world by Fodor's Travel, New York-based publisher of international guidebooks.

The $585-million facility, which recently celebrated its second birthday, is being recognized along with some of the most famous airports in the world, including San Francisco International, Spain's Madrid-Barajas Airport and Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in China.

Erica Duecy, deputy web editor at Fodors.com, said she was fascinated how the architects played off the prairie landscape in designing Richardson International, highlighted by the more than 50 skylights looking down on the arrivals area.

"The space feels so light and airy that it conveys a sense of the actual region in which it's located. That's very compelling to us," she said.

Duecy said most of the airports on its list have been christened since 2010 or had major upgrades to their terminals buildings.

"These airports are really becoming marquee projects. (Architects) are transforming them from solely functional spaces into inspiring places that people use for travel, but oftentimes they have time for daydreaming and spending time in the shops and restaurants," she said.

The global recognition was much appreciated by Stanis Smith, executive vice-president of Stantec, which worked with Pelli Clark Pelli Architects on the design.

"I'm delighted. Any time we've designed an airport, we've tried to give it a look and feel that is unique and memorable and reflects what is unique and memorable about the city and region," he said.

Smith said the idea behind the constellation of skylights was to create a galaxy-like feel and represent the night sky in an abstract way.

Barry Rempel, president and CEO of the Winnipeg Airports Authority, said he was "pleasantly surprised" the airport was recognized by such a well-recognized brand in the travel industry.

"Getting recognition from them really does draw global attention to a place in the middle of North America for something that is really positive," he said.

Rempel was quick to note the contributions of two former board members, Art Mauro and Doug Harvey, who made impassioned pleas during the terminal building's design phase to build a facility that was unique, would reflect its community and make Winnipeggers proud.

"You can build a functional box but a functional box by itself doesn't send the right kind of message about what our community is all about," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 22, 2014 B1

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