Airport gets artful redesign Overhaul to include creative touches to welcome passengers

Sweetgrass baskets will be among art pieces displayed at Charleston International Airport when the nearly $200 million terminal overhaul is completed later this summer.

A parking deck mural, decorated columns and sweetgrass baskets are a few of the art pieces being considered to dress up Charleston International Airport once the nearly $200 million terminal overhaul is completed this summer.

An early concept of the artwork displays shows sweetgrass baskets near the central entrance, an overhead garden mural heading toward the parking deck, different modes of artwork wrapping around columns throughout the terminal, photographs over the Transportation Security Administration screening lanes, Philip Simmons ironwork on a pedestal behind the central hall and display cases with other pieces throughout the terminal, according to Andrew Steever of Square Point Design, an exhibit design, consulting and installation firm in West Ashley.

Other art and memorabilia will go up near the $175,000 memorial being established near the airport entrance for the nine victims of the June shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. ”Art pieces aren’t the only visual elements being added.

In addition to static advertising displays at key points in the terminal including jet bridges, seating areas and columns, video screens will be used at the passenger waiting areas near the gates, above the three baggage claim carousels and in other highly visible areas, according to Martha Bratton, manager of advertising sales for Charleston County Aviation Authority, which oversees the state’s busiest airport.

“We want it to be a ‘Welcome to’ and a ‘Welcome home,’” Bratton said.

Airport CEO Paul Campbell believes the advertising opportunities will support some of the other things the airport wants to do, including helping to pay for the artwork displays, design and consulting.

“When people come to the airport, they are looking for information and ideas,” said Aviation Authority board member Margaret Seidler.

“We want to make sure our airport is unique, and we get the opportunity to brand ourselves,” said board member Helen Hill, who also heads up Charleston’s tourism efforts through the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, who is on the airport board, suggested adding a piano in the terminal to add another element of the arts — music.

Selected exhibits will be rotated in and out, according to Pam Murphy, the airport’s procurement manager.

“That will certainly reduce the clamor” among contributing artists, board member Walter Hundley said.

No date has been set for completion of the terminal work or for the rededication ceremony, but officials are considering a two-day event, one public and one private, most likely in late summer or early fall.

Work on the public areas of the terminal, except for some concessionaires, is expected to wrap up in May. Construction behind the scenes will continue through June, and the vendors area should be finished by July, said Dennis Wiehl of Mead & Hunt, the program manager overseeing the redevelopment.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843 937-5524 or