San Francisco International Airport Terminal 2 Remodel

Project Overview

With the opening of the new International Terminal in 2000, the old international terminal, Terminal 2, was closed.  Terminal 2 (T-2) is now in the process of being completely remodeled as a domestic terminal, with Virgin America being the primary carrier.  Scheduled project completion is slated for April 14, 2011. Gensler, the project architectural firm, based the terminal’s design concept on a “bridge to the city”, which emphasizes San Francisco as an international city and the joy and romance of travel in a hospitable environment. The remodel presented the Arts Commission with two exciting opportunities: to commission new and dynamic work by local and national artists of outstanding merit and to re-install important work by leading local, national and international artists from the Airport’s collection.

In July 2008, the Airport and Arts Commission approved a plan that called for commissioning three large signature artworks for the Terminal’s glass façade, entry lobby mezzanine area and the post security recompose area. In addition, two interactive artworks would be commissioned for the children’s play areas. The Arts Commission issued a national request for qualifications and received 530 responses. The finalists were selected by a panel comprised of members from the Airport Museums Program Airport Design Team, the Arts Commission, as well as three prominent arts professionals.

The selected artists and their projects are listed below.

For a more detailed background information about the public art program at T-2, click here.

Proposal for Façade Screen
(North and South elevation on either side of the pedestrian bridge and main entry)

Photo: Bruce Damonte

Photo: Bruce Damonte

Artist: Norie Sato, Seattle, WA
Title: Air Over Under
Norie Sato’s imagery was inspired by our relationship to clouds and flight. Specifically, her work delves into some of flight’s inherent qualities: ephemeral, abstract, pictoral, natural, man-made, symmetrical and changeable. The artwork depicts the dual experience of being under or over clouds when flying in a plane. According to the artist, “Air Over Under is about perception, relativity and how our position and situations are never static.”

The façade installation is comprised of a grid of 120 pieces of laminated glass panels approximately 4’ x 10’ each covering two 16’ x 150’ areas. Produced at Franz Mayer Studios in Munich, Germany, the laminated panels are comprised of one layer of glass with hand-painted glass enamels and another layer that includes a silkscreened pixilated image in white. The combined effect is of a photographic image that, depending on the viewer’s distance or point of view, either looks clear or more abstract and atmospheric. The colors are subtle, and change gradually from blue to green on one side and from blue to purple on the other side.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Air Over Under

Proposal for Entry Lobby Mezzanine Area

Photo: Bruce Damonte

Photo: Bruce Damonte

Artist: Kendall Buster, Richmond, VA
Working title:
Materials: Powder coated steel tubing and greenhouse shade cloth

Topograph consists of two 24’x 24’x16’ conversant forms suspended on either side of the mezzanine above the departure lobby. The project reflects the artist’s ongoing interest in the merging of natural and built environments and her investigations into forms that operate at once as landscape and architecture. Suggesting a topography map, the sculptures consist of stacked, shaped planes made from powder-coated steel tubing and greenhouse shade cloth. This durable material and construction method allows for maximum volume with minimal weight and allows light to penetrate the structure. The suspended shapes create an illusion that the forms have decompressed and expanded and that the two visible sculptures might be fragments of a larger mysterious mass, like clouds. The sculpture may be interpreted in many ways, but the suggestion of immateriality—a frozen moment before a totally new form emerges—is the artist’s objective.

Meet the artist….

Proposal for Post-security Recompose Area

Photo: Bruce Damonte

Photo: Bruce Damonte

Artist: Janet Echelman, Massachusetts
Title: Every Beating Second
Materials: Powder-coated steel, colored fiber, colored light, mechanized air flow, and computer programming
Artist Janet Echelman transforms the terminal with fictional nature that subtly engages viewers with real and imagined natural forces. Her sculpture installation cuts three round skylights into the ceiling, from which descend delicate layers of translucent colored netting to create three voluptuous volumetric forms. A series of shaded outlines below are embedded into the terrazzo floor, reflecting the precise shadows that would occur on the summer solstice if the sun could penetrate through the roof. During the day, sun streams through the skylights to cast real shadows that interplay with the fictional shadows in the floor. At night, the artist’s program of colored lighting makes the sculpture glow from indigo to purple, magenta to red-orange. Computer-programmed mechanized air-flow animates the fluidly-moving sculpture at different intervals throughout the day, as if the wind could magically flow through solid walls.

The artist achieved the sculpture’s physical presence by braiding fibers and knotting twine into sculptural netting suspended from powder-coated steel armatures. Despite their large scale, more than 120 feet in circumference for a single form, her sculpture is experienced as ephemeral and weightless. Visually, the sculpture evokes the contours and colors of cloud formations over the Bay and hints at the silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge. Aesthetically, the sculpture looks both backwards and forwards, drawing its color from the heyday of psychedelic music, the Summer of Love, and San Francisco’s prominence in the beat poetry movement, while also referencing the contemporary Bay Area as a hub of innovation and interconnectivity for the world of technology.

Proposal for T2 Children’s Play-Area

Photo: Bruce Damonte

Photo: Bruce Damonte

Artist: Walter Kitundu, San Francisco, CA
Title: Bay Area Bird Encounters
Materials: Plywood
Walter Kitundu created a group of interactive artworks that were designed to offer travelers of all ages a playful oasis. Using high-quality veneer plywood, which he then hand-stained, Kitundu created two benches shaped like bird wings that double as musical instruments. Serving as the backdrop for these musical benches, is a mural made of inlaid wood featuring local birds such as a Red-tailed Hawks, Anna’s Hummingbirds, herons, egrets, Northern Harriers, and Burrowing Owls. The birds, which are printed on wood and also inlaid, are photographs that the artist took in San Francisco. The focal point of the mural is a large bird whose wings, like the benches, are reminiscent of a xylophone or marimba and can be played with rubber mallets. The keys of the instruments are made from a tropical hardwood called Garapa. Each of the musical components of his installation are linked to a specific bird. When played left to right, a portion of the bird’s song is heard, in a lower register. The instruments can also be played freely, and they are tuned so that they can be played together harmoniously.

Proposal for T2 Children’s Play-Area


Artist: Charles Sowers, San Francisco, CA
Title: TBD
Materials: Dichroic acrylic, stepper motors and electronic motor controllers
Creating a delightful dance of rising and falling mechanical “butterflies,” Butterfly Wall is an interactive kinetic sculpture controlled by ten visitor operated hand-cranks. Housed in a 12′ tall by 12′ wide by 1′ thick free-standing glass case, each fluttering butterfly rides on a loop of transparent belting strung floor to ceiling. When cranked, the 20 butterflies continuously descend their belts at a rate dictated by the air resistance of their spinning iridescent wings. Cranking faster than the descent rate of the butterflies causes them to rise towards the ceiling; cranking slower than this rate causes the butterflies to flutter back down or hover in one place.

Re-installing Treasures from the Airport Museum’s Collection
In addition to commissioning and purchasing new work for T2, the Arts Commission has made it a priority to re-install artwork from the Airport’s collection that either is currently or was historically installed in T2. Read more

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San Francisco Arts Commission

401 Van Ness, Ste. 325
San Francisco, CA 94102

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