To walk into the new YYC/Calgary International Airport is to be transported. Wood, metal and stone evoke the natural essence of the surrounding region, while expansive windows offer breathtaking views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. YYC opened in late 2016 – a reimagined gateway to one of Canada's largest and most economically significant cities, and the country's newest, most iconic airport. Estimated at CAD$1.6 billion (USD$1.2 billion) and totaling nearly 2,000,000 sq. ft. (185,000 sq. m.), the project joined a growing list of major North American airports committed to making multi-billion-dollar critical infrastructure upgrades.


Featuring 24 new gates, streamlined customs and connections services, advanced boarding processes, and 50 new shops and services, the new terminal demonstrates state-of-the-art thinking in designing expansive spaces. Sustainability measures throughout the airport extend to renovated portions of the existing facility.

Designers from across Canada worked for several years to cultivate a design blending aesthetics with functionality, sustainability and comfort – in a way that would express "Calgary" without being too literal. Combining natural materials in unexpected ways for an airport environment allowed designers to play with colors, finishes and shapes while still providing the necessary durability required to endure the traffic of 15.7 million travelers a year.

Innovative Acoustics Overhead

A key aspect of the design process was to specify a unique, modular ceiling system that would contribute to a stress-free travel experience by assisting with wayfinding, managing acoustics and mitigating noise. The ceiling would need to fit into existing building plans, which were underway long before a manufacturer was selected and specified. It also needed to contribute to the sustainability and carbon footprint of the terminal design, which uses geothermal cooling and heat, rainwater harvesting and an innovative building envelope.


From a field of three manufacturers, CertainTeed was chosen to supply ceiling and suspension components, drywall and finishing products. Proposed plans were scored by the design team on factors of installation time, pricing and efficiency.

CertainTeed Ceilings Decoustics wood panel ceilings were standouts in the scoring process and ultimately specified throughout the airport, as they offered aesthetically pleasing wood visual that was easy to install and offered full accessibility after installation. The suspension system also received top marks, thanks to its virtual invisibility, which gives the illusion that the wood panels are floating in space. This contributed to the overall design theme of open, airy spaces and natural materials.

In addition to 200,000 sq. ft. of Decoustics panels, perforated metal ceiling panels were incorporated throughout the space, bringing extraordinarily long lifecycle and unmatched durability, along with an attractive complement to the wood visuals.

CertainTeed Ceilings Sand Micro™ mineral fiber and Symphony® f fiberglass ceiling panels provided economical, yet effective acoustic control. With varying acoustic properties and a consistent visual, they allowed the design team to mix and match products, fine-tuning acoustic performance throughout the terminal.


A project of this size came with unique manufacturing and installation challenges – which became opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

Specialized steel framing panels required new suspension methodologies, which were developed through a collaboration between Sunco Commercial Construction Supply and CertainTeed Ceilings. Custom wood panels required careful handling and stabilizing to be installed at heights of 40 to 65 feet. And contractors had to work around wide swings in atmospheric conditions – installing wood panels only on low-humidity days, as high humidity caused expansion that made proper spacing a challenge.

To meet specific acoustical values for the space, the CertainTeed Decoustics team sourced a superior acoustical fleece backer that was able to produce the result that was required. By sourcing and applying a special black thin fiberglass matt, CertainTeed was able to eliminate the need for additional fiberglass board behind the finish ceiling planks.

In addition, CertainTeed Ceilings provided a new, never-before-used innovative drywall grid system. The successful installation of the system over 250,000 sq. ft. of space in the terminal was a testament to future success of the product, which was officially launched in 2014.

Gateway to Canada's frontier, and to building industry innovation

After a massive design, manufacturing and installation process, CertainTeed Ceilings, Decoustics, CertainTeed Gypsum and CertainTeed Finishing products make a significant contribution to the overall YYC/Calgary International Airport experience. An international gateway to an increasingly international city, the Calgary project is a reminder that critical, billion-dollar infrastructure upgrades require creative thinking and innovative approaches to design, function, and materials.

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