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New terminal building at Iqaluit in Canada’s frozen north

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Stantec’s Noel Best reflects on the innovative design of the planned new terminal building at Iqaluit in Canada’s frozen north.

In Canada’s far north, the temperature can plunge to minus 50F (minus 45C), winds can reach hurricane speeds, and winter is locked in perpetual night.

This extreme climate creates significant design challenges for the new Iqaluit International Airport terminal, where passenger comfort, an efficient building envelope, and natural light become top priorities.

Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut, the territory that stretches across the eastern half of the Canadian Arctic. Although a small town, it is the legislative, commercial and administrative centre, and the hub for connecting flights to many smaller communities.

There are no roads to Iqaluit – access is exclusively by air and by sea, the latter only for the brief months of summer. The airport takes on a primary role in the capital, not only as the key transportation facility, but also as a central meeting pla…