Mountains, Forests, Rivers and Wildlife: Creating a Sense of Place at YYC Calgary International Airport

Mountains, Forests, Rivers and Wildlife: Creating a Sense of Place at YYC Calgary International Airport

Friday, October 28, 2016 0 Uncategorized

Airports create a first and last impression of the city and region they serve, which is the reason YYC Calgary International Airport (YYC) is focused on creating a sense of place for arriving and departing passengers. The new International Terminal at YYC incorporates a variety of Themeworks that showcase the breadth and beauty our province has to offer,and provides passengers with an engaging and positive air travel experience. Architects, engineers and construction crews and designers alike came together to give local flair to the new International Terminal, but the focus on providing a sense of place got its start in the existing terminal facility.

Themeworks Program

Originally developed in the late 1990s, YYC’s Themeworks program is the cornerstone to creating a sense of place at YYC. The program’s purpose is to enhance the airport experience, and give travellers and other guests a sense of Calgary and Alberta.

The Domestic Terminal Building features 17 iconic pieces including ‘Big Head Sam Livingstone’ by Alan Anderson and ‘Up Up & Away’ by Jeff de Boer. 


‘Breakway’ by Robert Spaith was previously situated in the Domestic Terminal Building, but now graces the Arrivals Level in the new terminal to welcome arriving passengers. The 15 Themeworks pieces in the new International Terminal are sure to wow the millions of passengers who travel through YYC each year. Themeworks in the new space are creative representations of the natural landscapes and animal life of the surrounding area, specifically the Rocky Mountains.

Take a virtual tour of the new sculptures, paintings and interactive installations by flipping through the gallery below.

The Rocky Mountains

Nestled in the foothills of the mountains, Calgary boasts close proximity to Banff National Park and the world-famous Rock Mountains. Elements of Rundle Rock stone are used on feature walls throughout the Domestic Terminal Building, and of course, the new International Terminal. Granite floors in the new terminal add an element of durability and beauty.

Trees & Forestry

When passengers first arrive into the new terminal, they’re greeted by a spacious check-in hall. The Check-in Hall vaulted ceilings are constructed using Douglas Fir, reminiscent of Alberta’s forested landscape. 

Elements of wood and forestry can also be seen in many Themeworks pieces.

(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)

(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)

Lakes & Rivers

From the Bow River to Peyto Lake to Waterton National Park, the rich blues and green hues of Alberta’s glacial rivers and lakes are marveled at by visitors from around the world. 

‘Glacial Wall’ by Michel Mailhot(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)

(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)

Glimpses and reflections of Alberta’s natural water features can also be seen in the landscape series by Jason Carter.

(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)


Tying together the new and the existing terminal are two large-scale water features on the Arrivals Level. The newest water feature, pictured below, adds a vibrant splash of changing colours for passengers to enjoy. 
(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)




Bears, mountain goat, geese and deer are just a few of the animals found in Alberta and featured in the new International Terminal. Whether you’re awaiting your departure to an International or U.S. destination, or waiting for your luggage in the baggage claim area, wildlife is all around you


(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)

(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)

(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)

(Photo credit: Bruce McFarlane)

Passenger Tunnel

Mountains, forests, rivers and even cityscapes are represented through photography form in the Pedestrian Passageway. Images were chosen from YYC’s ‘Capture Alberta Through Your Lens’ photo contest that generated hundreds of submissions from local photographers. This passageway runs underneath the Departures Roadway and connects the P2 parkade to the new International Terminal.

The next time you fly in or out of Calgary, take a moment to stop and take in your surroundings. Through Themeworks, construction materials and design, YYC Calgary International Airport will really feel like home for Calgarians and is a great representation of Alberta for those visiting from around the globe.


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