Architect Frank Gehry to design Forks warming hut

World-renowned architect Frank Gehry is set to put his unique stamp on Winnipeg, but his creation will only be temporary — and much more humble.
Architect Frank Gehry is designing a warming hut along the Forks skating trail in Winnipeg this winter. (Isaac Brekken/Associated Press)

World-renowned architect Frank Gehry is set to put his unique stamp on Winnipeg, but his creation will only be temporary — and much more humble.

The mind behind iconic projects as the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Dancing House in Prague, the Experience Music Project in Seattle, the Cinematheque francaise in Paris, and the Strata Center in Cambridge, is turning his attention to making a warming hut along the Forks skating trail this winter.

"This is the finest acknowledgement of an architecturally-based competition you can ever hope to receive," Jim August, CEO of the Forks North Portage Partnership, said in a news release.

"When you ask arguably the most well-known architect in the world to design a $10,000 warming hut and he says yes, you know you are on to something."

Gehry's warming hut, still to be designed, will join four others as part of Warming Huts v.2012: An Art + Architecture Competition on Ice.

The very fact that the competition is based in Winnipeg is a large part of the appeal to participate, said Paul Jordan, chief operating officer with Forks North Portage Partnership.

"The competition has really struck a chord with the community. Many have never worked in these conditions and are frankly fascinated with the concepts of snow and ice," Jordan said.

The competition, supported in part by the Manitoba Association of Architects, was announced September 2011 with an open call for submissions through the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), the American Institute of Architecture, online at, and other architectural websites.

"We're expecting to receive over 150 submissions this year," Jordan said.

"Given the calibre of our first two years we are like kids in a candy store waiting to open the packages this weekend."

A separate competition is being held locally for a fourth hut within the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Architecture.

Teams must consist of architects and/or landscape architects paired with an artist. Each is given a small sum of money to create and construct their warming huts.

All winning submissions will be given approval by an engineer before building is started.

Last year's exposition and the submission process can be viewed online.