Consultant and Local Artist Team Make Recommendations for Public Art in New Terminal

Work is underway on the $1.5 billion terminal at Kansas City International Airport. Dubbed Build KCI, the project will replace the aging three-terminal complex with a modern, single terminal that will improve the experience for all users. Public art will be a part of this experience, enhancing the front door to our community in a way that reflects our Kansas City pride.

As with other KCI Airport projects the new terminal will showcase works of art approved by the Municipal Art Commission as part of Kansas City, Missouri’s “One Percent for Art” program . Along with over 300 other U.S. cities and counties, this program stipulates that one percent of public construction costs be set aside for public art enhancements. A panel of aviation professionals, community representatives and artists selects the artist for each project.

For more information about Kansas City’s One Percent for Art program and the Municipal Art Commission, including instructions for artists about how to apply, please visit www.kcmo.gov/art.

The art team
New terminal developer Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate engaged Community Arts International (CAI) to work with a group of advisory artists to gather recommendations for artworks and placement, and budget allocations for them. This team scheduled in-depth meetings with leading regional arts professionals. The team also reviewed the new terminal drawings and developed proposed locations and budget allocations for public art throughout the terminals and in the 6,000-plus space garage.

To lay the groundwork with public input, the team scheduled public meetings to garner community feedback. The pandemic led them to cancel the meetings and develop an online presentation and survey to gather public input. The findings revealed that Kansas City wants the terminal to show community pride, growth, level of excitement and outlook for the future. CAI held a series of online workshops with the advisory artists to gather ideas. From this, CAI developed a list of recommendation of types of art (such as floor-based, ceiling-based or wall-based) as well as possible locations in the complex and the percentage of budget to be allocated.

Since CAI submitted its report, the City Public Art Administrator has worked closely with key project team members and with an ad-hoc Executive Committee for Public Art at the KCI New Single Terminal and Parking to refine the recommendations for art locations and budget allocations.

Current recommendations are outlined below:

Great Hall – suggested budget allocation: Report recommendation: 20% Executive Committee recommendation 25%
The team and the City Public Art Administrator believe it is important for the entrance hall to be welcoming and set the tone for the entire terminal. Key in incorporating artwork here is not interfering with traffic flow or airport operations. The team cited a possible nod to Kansas City’s long, prestigious tradition of ceramics by commissioning a series of large-scale vertical vessels placed along glass walls. The Executive Committee for Public Art at the KCI New Single Terminal and Parking raised the budget allocation for this area to reflect the large size of the space.

Retail Nodes A and B – suggested budget allocation: 10% – 20% per node Executive Committee recommendation: 21% for Node A, 9% for Node B
The team suggested locating major sculptural artworks in retail node areas, possibly something digital and interactive. The ceiling pop up is 30-feet high, which lends itself to a dramatic, large-scale artwork that could be programmed to respond to changing light. The Executive Committee recommended 21% for Node A because 100% of traveling passengers will pass by this location.

Concourses – suggested budget allocation: 10% Executive Committee recommendation 9%
Gates are typically high-traffic areas with both departing and arriving travelers and passenger queuing so the team believes the art should be unobtrusive. Suggested elements: pieces on the walls between gates or hanging sculptures.

Connector – Suggested Budget Allocation: 5% – 10% Executive Committee recommendation: 6%
The I-shaped terminal has a connector between concourses A and B, complete with moving walkways or people movers. There is a seating area/airfield-viewing gallery in the center. Since this area is slated for a possible historic display and there will be a great deal of light, the team had some creative suggestions. This includes either a lightweight hanging sculpture or an LED light piece that flows over the people movers and through the connector, linking to retail nodes A & B. The team believes the connector lends itself to an audio installation that activates as passengers move along the walkway. Analogous to the “Motown” tunnel in Detroit, the soundscape could highlight sounds of Kansas City.

Elevated roadway (underside, arrivals level) – suggested budget allocation: 5% – 8%
The art team believes a colorful LED lightwork would welcome arriving passengers heading to the garage or waiting to be picked up and provide additional lighting.

Parking structure – suggested budget allocation: 15% – 20%
Because of the mixed surfaces of exterior facades and vehicle exhaust inside the garage, the team suggested focusing on the north and south stairways. Works in the stairwells could be neon, or wall treatments in both stairwells such as super graphics, murals, or lighting that acts as wayfinding for people to locate their parking level.

Long-term Loans
Kansas City has a wealth of museums, cultural organizations, art collectors and corporations with varied collections. The mission of museums is to make their collections accessible to the public, yet many notable works languish unseen in storage. The art team recommends pursuing loans of artworks to showcase in a variety of areas.

Build KCI
At just over 1 million square feet, the Kansas City International Airport New Terminal, Build KCI, is the largest single infrastructure project in the City’s history. It will have a lasting economic impact on the region in the form of new jobs, opportunities for local and small businesses, and a first-class traveler experience for airport users. The facility will open with 39 gates and the ability to expand up to 50 gates in the future. The New Terminal will also include a 6,000 space parking structure, which will be constructed adjacent to the terminal building, a central utility plant, and landside and airside improvements.

Led by the Kansas City Aviation Department, Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate and Clark | Weitz | Clarkson, the Build KCI project is expected to generate up to 5,000 construction-related jobs. More than 160 local partners are already at work on the project, including more than 90 minority- and women-owned businesses. The project will be funded using 100 percent tax-exempt debt – the most cost efficient approach for the project.

When complete, the new facility will replace the airport’s aging terminals, which opened in 1972. The New Terminal is being built in the footprint of the former existing Terminal A, which was razed. Ground breaking on was March 25, 2019, with grand opening slated for spring 2023.

For more information about public art at KCI, visit www.buildkci.com/art. Additional details of the project are available at BuildKCI.com and kci-edgemoor.com or on social media at @BuildKCI and @kciedgemoor.

For more information, contact Joe McBride at (816) 243-3164

Media Contact:

Joe McBride