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New terminal, new art: SFO to feature artwork by Eric Staller, Carlos Loarca and others
January 11, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Nick Rose/Daily Journal
While passengers wait for flights in the newly renovated Terminal E at San Francisco International Airport they will be surrounded by 27 hanging spheres. The artwork was created by ‘Merge Conceptual Design' which is a collaborative work of Franka Diehnelt, from Germany, and Claudia Reisenberger, from Austria.

With a new $138 million terminal scheduled to open at San Francisco International Airport by the end of the month, there will also be public art work added to the 65,000-square-foot space.

The city and county of San Francisco is putting in two new installations by artists Eric Staller and the artist team Merge Conceptual Design to its airport collection in the remodeled Boarding Area E in Terminal 3.

“The artworks are about collaborations and partnerships,” said Susan Pontious, director of public art and the civic art collection for the San Francisco Arts Commission.

One work by Staller includes “Spirogyrate” an interactive kinetic light sculpture comprised of six-foot circular rotating spirals inset into the floor and the wall of the children’s play area. The spirals move as if they were being propelled by one another like gears. They are covered with glass so you can walk on them as they spin, with motion sensors activating changes in the lighting casting different colors on to the discs.

“SFO’s new Boarding Area E, Terminal 3 reflects San Francisco’s reputation as a hub for innovation and creativity,” said Tom DeCaigny, director of cultural affairs for the commission. “With each new renovation project, the San Francisco Arts Commission has an opportunity to engage artists in reimagining the airport experience. The latest projects by Eric Staller and Merge are both captivating and will transport viewers on a journey before they embark on their real trip.”

During a media tour of the space, DeCaigny said it’s important for artists to be able to define a unique space like San Francisco and the city is very lucky to have public art programs.

Additionally, at the waiting area at the end of the terminal lies the suspended light sculpture “Sky” by Merge Conceptual Design. The artist team Franka Diehnelt and Claudia Reisenberger created the sculpture, which is made up of 27 mirror-polished stainless steel spheres of different sizes. The globes are hollow with circular openings oriented at various angles and their interiors are painted a matte blue. They are also illuminated by LED lights to create a soft interior glow, while a computerized program causes these lights to brighten and dim at intervals creating a changing pattern of light.

In addition to the new works, the commission will reinstall five paintings, currently in the airport collection, by artists Jay DeFeo, Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Bechtle, James Torlakson and Carlos Loarca.

The repurposed Boarding Area E, first constructed in 1981, will feature 11 dining and retail outlets, 10 gates for United Airlines, desk spaces with outlets, a yoga room and other amenities. The architects included Gensler and The KPA Group.

With this latest renovation project, the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Public Art Program received approximately $717,440 in art enrichment funds for the new commissions. According to San Francisco administrative code, before proposing a bond issue or making a request for an appropriation for the construction for certain projects, there needs to be art enrichment included in the proposed construction. Two percent of the gross estimated construction cost needs to be exclusively dedicated to items proposed for such art enrichment.

For more information on the new terminal visit

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: francisco, airport, terminal,

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