OKC VeloCity | Will Rogers World Airport expansion includes locally-designed art features

Will Rogers World Airport expansion includes locally-designed art features

By Molly Fleming / Development / January 27, 2020

Artist Matt Goad had been told that his style would translate well into terrazzo.

This month, he’s flying to North Carolina to start work on a once-in-a-career project at the Will Rogers World Airport.

Goad beat out 35 artists from across the world to be the designer for the public art to be incorporated in the Will Rogers World Airport’s $89 million expansion project. Steel beams are coming up now as the work continues until its expected opening of 2021’s second quarter.

The existing 410,000 square-foot airport terminal is getting an additional 133,022 square feet, with 43,473 square feet being renovated. The new space will add four new airline gates, a consolidated security checkpoint and much-needed greeting lounge space.

Artists were asked to submit two designs: the terrazzo floors in the new lobby in front of the security checkpoint and the public circulation area, and for a glass wall, located on the mezzanine level.

Goad said the project is legacy-type work.

“I was certain I wouldn’t become the finalist,” he said. “Winning it just the biggest mind blow of my life. This will probably outlive me. This is going to put me on another level where I’m hopefully doing more of these things around the world.”

He’s already seen an uptick in his business, selling five paintings the week it was announced that he had won the project.

WRWA Public Information Manager Karen Carney said the idea for the terrazzo floor came out of necessity. Regulations around how an airport project is being funded required the art to be architecturally integrated into the structure, so a sculpture would be tricky.

Carney said when the six-panel jury looked at Goad’s OKConnected submission, his use of color and Oklahoma-centric content caught their attention.

“We had some amazing finalists,” she said. “But when Matt gave his presentation, you could tell that he had done so much research and had so much passion for Oklahoma City, everyone was like, ‘That’s what we want.’”

Goad met with Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Bob Blackburn to learn more about the city and state that’s become his home. The Arizona native came to Oklahoma City for art school in the 1980s and has been leaving his mark ever since. Besides murals around the state, he also designed Elk Valley Brewing Co.’s. cans.

But murals can be removed or painted over and can lines will change.

A terrazzo floor and glass wall at the state’s largest airport is a whole other level of work.

“There’s no way I can over exaggerate how honored and blown away by this I am,” he said. “This is just a whole other thing.”

The design was only the first step in this process. While in North Carolina, Goad will visit with the terrazzo company to get the colors right for all the separate pieces in the design. This fall, when it’s time to install the floor, he’ll be onsite to make sure it’s laid out properly. He said the piece is laid out like a large stencil. Spacers are put where the lines will be, then filled in with metal once the terrazzo is put into place.

Carney said she thinks when the floor is finished and is used by visitors, it will spark conversations like who is the big cowboy in the center. The design also include six medallions, with four medallions representing one sector of the state's economy: agriculture, energy, aerospace, and healthcare. Another medallion represents the 39 federally-recognized tribes located in the state and the other medallion represents the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

“There’s probably a whole generation that doesn’t know who Will Rogers is,” she said.

The other notable part of this piece and the process, she said, is that the jury vote to pick Goad was unanimous. City of Oklahoma City Arts and Culture Liaison Robbie Kienzle said she’s never seen that happen.

“The message that sends is that this work really appealed to a lot of people,” Carney said.

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