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Aesthetics not overlooked at international terminal
By Amy Schneider

There are many things that travelers will love about the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal — its world-class concessions, the separate levels for arrivals and departures, the elimination of the baggage recheck process for Atlanta-bound passengers. But perhaps the most lasting impressions will be made by the breathtaking, large-scale installations of permanent art throughout the 1.2 million-square-foot facility.


As passengers relax in the International Atrium while awaiting their flights, their eyes cannot help but go to the giant, soaring sculpture above them. “airFIELD” by the artist team Uebersee comprises 1,440 custom-made liquid crystal discs that create the illusion of motion when electricity flows through them and changes their transparency. The software that runs the piece monitors a live stream of flight data synced to the movements of arriving and departing aircraft, thus reflecting the activity on the airfield in the artwork.

The resulting animation that flows through the work captures the pulse of the world’s busiest airport and creates an ever-changing, dynamic visual experience.

“This piece already has attracted a lot of attention from people who have gone on tours of the international terminal. It has a mesmerizing effect — and, I think, a soothing one,” said Katherine Dirga, Airport Art Program manager. “This piece is a unique, inventive sculpture that reflects the international terminal’s sweeping curves and clean lines. We think it will be a conversation piece for travelers long after they have reached their destinations.”



Another ceiling-mounted art installation, “Rebilace” by Donald Lipski, also plays with and diverts light. The piece — in the transitions hall, just past the security checkpoint — is made up of thousands of Swarovski crystals arranged into a conical form, much like a chandelier. The piece, which is lit from within and reflects natural light from the large windows nearby, casts light and color around it in constantly changing patterns.

“The chandelier has, since medieval times, been a place of gathering, a sign of opulence and sophistication,” Lipski said. “I have situated our chandelier at the crossroads of the axis lines of the terminal, giving it high visibility from the moment one passes through security, comes up the escalator or arrives by plane.”

“The international terminal is a beautifully designed building, from the floor to the ceiling, and these pieces that are suspended above passengers invite them to look up and appreciate the facility from all angles,” Dirga said.


‘American Tapestry’

The Airport Art Program also wanted to make sure that the pieces selected for the international terminal would represent the state of Georgia, the region and the United States in general for international travelers, some of whose first experience of the country may be arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson.

To give these travelers a taste of the nation’s rich and diverse landscape and culture, the artist team of Mark and Donna Tuttle, together with Broadcast Solutions, created “American Tapestry.” This impressive video installation features 108 55-inch ultra-high-definition screens in the customs and immigration processing area. These massive screens will show looping videos of footage that captures the heart and soul of the United States, with an emphasis on Atlanta and Georgia.

“These videos provide welcoming images that make international visitors feel at home in our city and country,” said David Vogt, Airport Art Program manager. “If their travel experiences will be limited to a small geographic area, these videos will give them a taste of what our nation has to offer visitors — and may fuel in them a desire to plan additional trips to see more.” 

"American Tapestry"


Another art installation at the international terminal serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. “Veneers” by Amy Landesberg is a vibrant art wall that divides the secure and sterile areas in the pedestrian corridor between concourses E and F. Each panel has an artistic representation of an endangered wood grain in a stained-glass appearance, allowing light to cascade through it onto the walkways and bathe the passengers in color.

The art wall runs 640 feet and consists of 127 modular art units containing 508 pieces of laminated glass.

“The ‘Veneers’ artwork was a monumental feat from aesthetic, engineering and fabrication perspectives. Amy had the most difficult logistical issues among all of our projects and resolved them with incredible ingenuity while achieving outstanding results,” Vogt said.


‘Light Waves: Atlanta’

For one of the sterile corridors in the international terminal, artist Christopher Janney created an interactive installation that uses light and sound to engage arriving passengers.

“ ‘Light Waves: Atlanta’ is one of my ‘urban musical instruments.’ Composed of colored glass shadows, touch panels and a sound score of environmental sounds, it is intended to give people who are coming into the southeastern United States a soothing visual and aural experience, a momentary ‘oasis’ after a long flight,” Janney said. 

Passengers are encouraged to interact with the artwork as if it were a large musical instrument. Sensors directly under the colored glass panels light up and add a new sound to the environment when touched. 

"Light Waves: Atlanta"

The search for signature art

The important role of art of Hartsfield-Jackson was cemented in 1977, when an Atlanta city ordinance dedicated 1 percent of eligible capital construction budgets to the arts, and this money has been put to good use at the international terminal.

The selection of artists to complete site-specific works for the international terminal began with the Airport Art Program’s artist registry, which lists about 500 artists and is updated every two to three years by program managers. Program managers also reviewed several national artist registries to ensure that a broad spectrum of local and national artistic visions would be considered for the project.

Airport Art Program managers then convened a selection panel, which included representatives from the local arts community and Airport stakeholders. This panel reviewed more than 30 proposals, conducted interviews with the artists and made recommendations for each site.

© 2012 Hartsfield-Jackson News. A Publication from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All rights reserved.

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