SALT LAKE CITY – The new Salt Lake City International Airport is scheduled to open in 48 days and among the eye-catching features of the $4.1 billion project are seven large art installations, highlighting the beauty of Utah.
“It all seems to be coming together beautifully,” said Gordon Huether, the consulting artist for the new SLC International Airport. “We want to create a sense of place and we want to make your experience a pleasant one, rather than a stressful one.”
Huether gave KSL a look behind the scenes Wednesday, as he and his team started finishing touches on the installations.
“I’m all about inspiring the spirit of humanity by bringing beauty and meaning into this world through art,” said Huether.
He wants people to be moved by the artwork when they walk through the airport, which is scheduled to open to travelers on Sept. 15.
Everybody is working hard under a tight deadline.
From a visual standpoint, you can tell it will be quite an experience.
“This is probably the most important time in our lifetime where art really really matters and really makes a difference,” Huether said, referring to the many negative impacts brought on by COVID-19 in our country. “Art is good for the soul. It’s good for the spirit, it’s good for this airport.”
He hopes travelers are swept away in the beauty of the airport experience, rather than the stress.
Huether is overseeing the larger project for art in the airport which includes several artists.
“It really takes a whole team, and we’ve got a great team,” he said.
Running through the center of the terminal, travelers will see one of the major art installations called “The Canyon.”
It’s as long as a football field, and the panels on the sides are three stories high. It took five acres of fabric to make, as well as seven miles of tubing.
“This is the signature art installation for the airport,” said Huether.
Lights on the ceiling will hit the waves of fabric with colors that range from sunrise to sunset.
The lights can also be set for seasonal themes.
Before the pandemic, 26,000 passengers passed through the corridors of the airport every day.
Huether said the art highlights the natural beauty of Utah and gives those who never leave the airport a sense of Utah.
“We want to embrace you as soon as you walk in the door,” said Huether.
“The Falls” is the first sight and the first art visitors will see when entering the airport.
In that work of art, hundreds of pieces of colored glass are held in place by cables stretching six stories high.
“They catch the light in all kinds of beautiful and inspiring ways, very much like when the sunlight hits a waterfall and you get the light sparkles on it,” Huether said.
As far as the other construction progress in Concourse A, gate areas are complete with seating and ticketing stations.
Concessions and restaurants are ready to be built out. The baggage claim looks nearly ready, and carousels are already being tested.
The new airport also has a new, larger carousel for oversized bags, like skis and golf clubs.
The TSA security screening area should also be an upgrade.
Wednesday, in the old airport, passengers were screened in each of the three terminals.
In the new airport, passengers will be screened in one central terminal, with 16 stations.
“I’m sure there are going to be some finishing touches that we will need to make on opening day,” said airport spokesperson Nancy Volmer. “But they’ll be able to go through the security screening areas and go to their gates. It will be a totally new experience for passengers.”
Concourse A opens in 48 days. Six weeks later, Concourse B will open.
Crews will then demolish all the existing structures and move on to phase two of the project.