San Francisco International Airport (SFO): Terminal 1, Underpass Lighting Project

Rendering of downstairs airport terminal, seating, directional signage, cars

Project Overview

SFO is currently carrying out a replacement terminal and concourse facility for San Francisco International Airport Terminal 1(T1). From the onset of the planning and design of the T-1 remodel, Arts Commission staff have been working closely with the Airport Design Team, which included the project architecture firm Gensler and Woods Bagot, representatives from the Bureau of Design and Construction and the Airport Museums to ensure the effective incorporation of art into the building’s overall design.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed an ordinance naming this terminal in honor of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk (1930-1978), who was the first openly gay official to be elected in California and a champion of gay civil rights. Milk, along with Mayor George Moscone, were assassinated while in office. In 2009 Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Project Description

Curbside at Arrivals level, the terminal design offers a wide roadway underpass. There is an opportunity here to utilize the underpass adjacent to the roadway as the site for a large-scale lighting project. The depth of the underpass varies from 22’ – 36’, and the length of the site is approximately 700’. The artwork will act as an iconic landmark; and serve to invigorate this otherwise liminal space.  

Artists may also be inspired to see this project as an opportunity to respond to the legacy of Harvey Milk, by bringing light, both physically and metaphorically, into this space that is one of the first welcoming experiences to residents and visitors alike as they arrive in San Francisco.



The artwork budget is $1,100,000.00, inclusive of all phases of the contract design, fabrication, transportation and installation.

Selection Process

Artist Selection Panels: A list of qualified artists will be presented to an Artist Selection Panel consisting of a Visual Arts Commissioner, a representative from the client agency, three (3) arts professionals of recognized professional stature, and a representative of the Design Team, (such as the project architect). After considering the artists’ qualifications, the Artist Selection Panel will identify finalists for recommendation to the Arts Commission for approval.

Each finalist will be paid an honorarium of $3,500 for development of a conceptual design proposal, plus the reimbursement of reasonable travel expenses, approved by the Arts Commission prior to travel arrangements being made for the orientation and panel interview. The Artist Selection Panel will reconvene to consider the finalists’ concepts in an interview format and will select one artist and an alternate for recommendation to the Arts Commission. 

Arts Commission Approval: The Artist Selection Panel’s recommendation will be submitted first to the Visual Arts Committee, a subcommittee of the Arts Commission and then to the full Arts Commission for approval.

All Arts Commission meetings and Public Art Selection Panel meetings are open to the public and are posted on the Arts Commission website at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting. To check the meeting schedule for public art projects, please go to our website at: http://www.sfartscommission.org/pubartcollection/category/public-meetings/.


  • Complete application submitted prior to the application deadline. 
  • Artwork examples submitted represent the artist’s own original creative work.
  • The artist’s work reflects artistic excellence, innovation and originality, as evidenced by professional quality of craftsmanship and mastery of skills, techniques; professional approaches to processes and presentation, and/or communicate a unique vision or perspective. 
  • The artist’s work is judged to be appropriate to the goals of the project.
  • The artist's professional experience is adequate to meet the demands of the project. Qualifying activities would include some combination of the following: education and training as an artist, an exhibition record in museums, commercial art galleries, and/or non-profit art spaces, previous public or private commissions; participation in artist-in-residency programs, or other related activities indicative of a professional art practice.
  • The artist is available to participate in the design, approval and implementation of the project as required. 
  • Assessed ability to meet project deadlines and to perform work in a timely and professional manner.
  • Results of reference checks for project finalists.

All applicants will be notified of the results of the First Selection Panel by email after Full Commission approval of the finalists, anticipated to be mid-August 2018.

Project Timeline

Issue RFQ Early July 2018
Initial Selection Panel Late August 2018
Final Selection Panel Mid-October 2018
Approval of selected artist by the 
Visual Arts Committee (VAC)
October 17, 2018
Approval of selected artist by Full Commission and Airport Commission Fall 2018
Artist under contract November 2018



How To Apply

Application materials must be submitted via SlideRoom, an online application system for calls for entry. There is no charge to artists for using SlideRoom. Please be sure to allow adequate time to submit your application as technical difficulties can occur. Applications that are mailed, emailed, faxed or hand-delivered will not be considered. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline. Application materials include:

1. Letter of Interest

  • One page maximum.
  • This should be a summary of your artistic focus and professional career, especially as your background relates to this project. Do not make a specific proposal for a new commission.

2. Resume

  • If you are applying as a team, please include your team/studio resume. If that is not available, please combine the individual resumes (one right after the other) of each team member into one document.

3. Ten images of previous work

  • SlideRoom accepts all image file types up to 5MB. Images should at least 72 dpi and no larger than 1250 x 1250 pixels
  • For team application, please indicate the lead artist for each project.

4. Image Descriptions

  • When you upload your images, SlideRoom will prompt you to fill out image descriptions. Please include the title, medium, dimensions, and year for each work. You may also include a brief statement (2 sentences maximum) about each work.

Check out our How to Apply to Calls for helpful tips on how to submit the most competitive application.

Please note that Arts Commission staff will be available to answer questions about this call until 5:00 PM (PST) on the deadline date, December 5, 2016.

SlideRoom technical support is available Monday – Saturday by email, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM (PST) support@slideroom.com.


  • Eligibility is open to professional, practicing artists who reside or have gallery representation in the United States.
  • Artists must have completed a project of similar scope, a large-scale lighting artwork with a minimum budget of $500,000.
  • Entries not meeting eligibility guidelines will be withdrawn from consideration.

What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

November 06
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

November 06
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

November 06
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

November 06
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125