Jan. 26, 2011
Arizona artist Teresa Villegas is bringing new life to the floor of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s Terminal 3, Baggage Claim.
The city of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture’s Public Art Program partnered with the Phoenix Aviation Department in commissioning Villegas to design a unique terrazzo floor as part of Terminal 3 renovations. Using a trip to Havasu Falls as her inspiration, Villegas created a soothing experience in an ordinarily hectic site. The result is a design that is beautiful, site specific and durable.
“Form and function were the main priorities when the city reviewed where public art would fit best at the airport,” said Rebecca Rothman, city Public Art project manager. “Terminal 3 baggage claim has millions of visitors each year, causing extensive wear to the carpet. As a result, the carpet was being replaced every two or three years. Terrazzo is known for its durability and is a maintenance-free material that lasts up to 50 years, alleviating the cost and hassle of carpet replacement.”
The floor was paid for with percent-for-art funds. One percent of funding from all construction projects in Phoenix is used to enhance public spaces with art.
Villegas knew while designing this project that baggage claim is often the first impression of a city. Deplaning passengers travel from level 2 down through the canyon walls of the escalators and are greeted with a pool of color at the bottom. “Using rich palo verde greens and periwinkle blue from the Arizona sky, I wanted to create an oasis of the refreshing wet, saturated desert that grows at the bottom of Havasupai Canyon,” said Villegas.
Travelers walk over a contemporary design of organic shapes inspired by desert cactus and flower designs. Waiting for luggage is made more enjoyable by finding cast aluminum designs of the flying insects, desert plants, thorns and seeds set in the terrazzo around the baggage carrousels. Villegas’ use of color and design elements contain recognizable features of the desert that brings a sense of place to those arriving.