Local Artists Bring Energy to New Terminal

By Marsha Morgenster

Published May 15, 2023

Read Time: 4 mins


Six artists have been commissioned to create works to be featured throughout Pittsburgh International Airport’s new terminal and campus.

Why it matters: “We believe in the power of arts and culture to transform public spaces,” said Keny Marshall, Arts & Culture Manager. “We’re excited for travelers and airport staff to experience more world-class exhibitions and performing artists from our region in these vibrant new spaces.”

  • At Pittsburgh International Airport, visual and performing arts abound as part of the  Art in the Airport Program.
  • When the new landside terminal opens in 2025, new art will explore themes of nature, technology and community.

What to expect: Marshall cited generous support from The Heinz Endowments to support Art in the Airport in its goal to “more fully engage travelers with the arts and culture in our region, amplify the work of artists with diverse creative perspectives and connect travelers to our region and the world.”

  • When entering the new ground floor arrivals area, passengers will be immersed in a three-dimensional sound installation created by award-winning artist Susan Narduli, who works at the intersection of art, technology and public space.
  • The sound environment will surround visitors traveling on the escalators. A complementary app will allow visitors to experience the sounds again, and learn more about them, wherever they are.
  • The International Arrivals corridor will feature Orrery and Butterfly Nebula by Pittsburgh-based artist Alisha B. Wormsley. The works consist of a sculpture on the ceiling inspired by a model of the galaxy and patterns of immigration into Pittsburgh, and an installation built into the adjacent wall made from an array of collected ‘treasures’ from the airport’s lost and found.

Alisha B. Wormley’s Orrery and Butterfly Nebula consist of a sculpture on the ceiling and an array of collected ‘treasures’ from the airport’s lost and found, inspired by a model of the galaxy and patterns of immigration into Pittsburgh. (Pittsburgh International Airport)

In baggage claim: “Our art program provides thought-provoking ideas and interactive, whimsical and fun displays,” said Rick Lee, implementation manager for the new terminal project. “We are proud of our diverse artist base, representing national, regional and local artists.”

  • Pittsburgh artist John Peña is known for his inspired community engagement projects. On the south side of the new terminal, Peña is creating a series of four baggage claim sculptures that ask people to consider the question, “What does luggage think about?”
  • On the north side, Fredy Huaman Mallqui‘s Connections, a suite of hand-carved sculptures inspired by seeds as a means of travel, will be placed on four new baggage claim carousels.
  • Mallqui, of Erie, Pennsylvania, extensively researched thousands of years of immigration history in the Pittsburgh region, and his installation connects his personal story of migration from Peru to the United States as a young man to the daily experience of staff and travelers at PIT.

Outdoor experiences: Artwork is also being integrated outside of the terminal at the parking garage and customer service building site.

  • One of the TMP’s most visible art integrations, Portland, Oregon-based Adam Kuby‘s Cross Currents is a large-scale, nonrepeating pattern cast into concrete form liners. The abstract patterns reference landscape, rivers, city streets and connectivity.
  • Kuby’s work can already be seen on the precast parking garage façade and mechanically stabilized earth walls along the new roadway.
  • Colorado artist Patrick Marold’s Open Columns is a series of sculptures consisting of large-scale Corten steel and polished aluminum columns, to the green space surrounding the new terminal and multi-modal complex.
  • The materials reference the region’s history and present-day technological innovations. Viewed from afar, the sculptures’ shape is similar to smokestacks. Up close, their polished interiors blur the boundary between sculpture and sky.

Portland, Oregon-based Adam Kuby’s Cross Currents is a large-scale, nonrepeating pattern cast into concrete form liners. The abstract patterns reference landscape, rivers, city streets and connectivity. (Pittsburgh International Airport)

In the airside terminal: If you’ve visited PIT recently, you may have noticed changes already happening.

  • Alexander Calder’s aluminum and steel mobile Pittsburgh, a centerpiece of the airport since it was first installed in the Greater Pittsburgh Airport in 1959, has been taken down to be cleaned and conserved and will be relocated prominently in the updated terminal.
  • The Sky Beneath Our Feet, a mosaic terrazzo floor mural inspired by Pittsburgh’s skyline, was designed in 2015 for PIT’s center core by Pittsburgh artist Clayton Merrell. This integrated artwork will remain in place throughout the modernization program and stay once the new terminal is complete.

What they’re saying: “We are in the final detail development of the terminal art pieces and actual implementation of sculpted patterns in the roadways and parking garage projects,” Lee said. “We remain very excited about implementing the art program and what it brings to our program and the city.”

Calling all artists: The Art in the Airport program will continue to feature exhibitions and performances by regional artists throughout the Terminal Modernization Program.

  • Artists are selected through an open call for proposals, and Marshall encourages artists and performers within 150 miles of the airport to apply.
  • “We are committed to presenting the diverse range of great art in our region to the world and would love to work with you,” he said.
Go to Top