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San Diego Airport’s new Terminal 1 to feature the work of renowned artist James Carpenter

San Diego International Airport’s planned construction on the new terminal could begin as soon as early 2022

Phoenix Light Passage, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, AZ
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San Diego International Airport’s planned replacement for the aging Terminal 1 will be a unique integration of art and architecture, with the façade being designed by renowned New York City-based artist James Carpenter. His career has been focused on an ongoing exploration of light through the use of glass. Some of his major cultural projects include the Israel Museum’s expansion and campus renewal project in Jerusalem (2005-2011) and the Museum at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis Arch (2010-2018). Major private projects include the Gucci Japan Flagship building in Tokyo (2003-2006) and the “Ice Falls” water feature in the Hearst Tower (2002-2006). Carpenter’s firm has been recognized with numerous awards, including the National Environmental Design Award from the Smithsonian Institution and the American Institute of Architects Honor Award. Mr. Carpenter received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2004 and “The Daylight Award” from the Villum and Velux Foundations in 2010.

“Sky Reflector-Net," Fulton Center, New York, NY
Sky Reflector-Net, Fulton Center, New York, NY
Folding the presence of the sky into the heart of the Fulton Center experience, JCDA’s Sky Reflector-Net is also a functional component of the building (obscuring exposed HVAC, providing focused daylighting and porosity for smoke evacuation). The artwork was prefabricated offsite for ease of installation.

Carpenter has been selected as the lead artist for San Diego International Airport’s new T1 project. The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s Board indicated at the beginning of the process a vision for art to be more than an afterthought in the development of this critically needed project. Rather, it should be incorporated into the design.

James Carpenter portrait
James Carpenter

“Artists have the ability to enhance the experience of airport customers and the broader community,” says Johanna Schiavoni, Chair of the Airport Authority Board. “That’s why our Board chose an approach to integrate art into the design of the new Terminal 1. More than just a functional airport terminal, this building will be a work of art to elevate the experience of our travelers and our community.”

“The façade will be one of the most highly visible and memorable features of the new Terminal 1,” says Kimberly Becker, President and CEO of the Airport Authority. “We are very pleased with the selection of highly acclaimed artist James Carpenter as the visionary for this design.”

Museum at the Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO
Museum at the Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO
The new west entry plaza to the Museum at the Gateway Arch is a commons imbued with the play of sky, arch and river. Now visible from and connected to the city, this welcoming destination harnesses the history and design of the landmarked 92-acre park landscape and Eero Saarinen’s iconic symbol. The plaza is open 24/7, always available for use by the community. During museum hours it serves an educational function for groups gathering before exploring the museum. As the lead designer on the museum expansion, JCDA collaborated closely with the architect of record, Cooper Robertson and the landscape architect leading the team, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Engaging the previously excluded downtown communities of St. Louis, this sheltered space encourages a collective moment in which to contemplate the complex history embodied in the museum, framed and elucidated by the visceral presence of light and sky.

Carpenter will be an integral member of the Board-approved design-build team, which includes representatives from Turner-Flatiron and Gensler. This groundbreaking collaboration is the first of its kind for the Airport Authority. Typically, artists are commissioned to design original works of art inside and outside the building. Conversely, Carpenter and team have been charged with developing a design for the building itself, focusing on its south façade.

The goal of this approach is to develop a design that harnesses the abundance of sunshine San Diego enjoys, creating a warm and welcoming feeling for passengers.

Carpenter and his team aspire to transform the interior of the new Terminal 1 space through a varying play of light and color that occurs throughout the day. Their design will celebrate the changing character of the sky from sunrise to sunset, using a variety of design elements he refers to as “light interventions.”

“We have been seeking ways to bring the unique qualities of light in San Diego into a signature for the building,” says Carpenter. “Our collaboration with Terrence Young and his team at Gensler has been remarkably productive and we look forward to continuing our work to capture and emulate the surrounding warmth and beauty found in Southern California.”

“7 World Trade Center Envelope," New York, NY
7 World Trade Center Envelope, New York, NY
7 World Trade was the first building to be rebuilt following the tragedy of 9/11. JCDA was tasked with developing a conceptual art approach founded on light to address the office tower’s new podium, which encloses a large electrical transformer station. Following JCDA was engaged to design the stainless steel podium enclosure; the “ship-lap” curtain wall; the entry cable-net blast wall, entry canopy and some key lobby elements – defining the luminously responsive presence of the tower.

Carpenter and his studio are also committed to sustainability in their practice, which aligns with the Airport Authority’s ongoing focus on environmental stewardship. The new Terminal 1 building design will be climate-resilient and adaptive; and will utilize both renewable electricity and a stormwater capture and reuse system.

In addition to the new terminal, the New T1 project includes improvements to the airfield, sustainability enhancements, and new transportation options that make getting to and from the airport easier.

If all goes as planned, construction on the new terminal could begin in early 2022, with completion anticipated by late 2026.

For more information about the New T1 project, click here. For more information about the Airport Arts Program, click here.

Featured Photo Phoenix Light Passage, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, AZ

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