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Two New Artworks At Bush Airport


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BAGGAGE ACCLAIM: The Art Guys' Travel Light (shown) and Sheila Klein's Leopard Sky, are among the 21 works selected by Art in America magazine as being among the country's best public art projects of 2004.

Aug. 12, 2005, 7:48PM

Enjoying the scenic routes

Two new artworks at Bush airport garner national attention

By PATRICIA C. JOHNSON

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

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I think it's great that Bush(IAH) is adding artwork to liven things up a bit. How's the construction and renivating going. I know terminal E is done and I here it looks good but what about the rest of the airport. They have been at it for years now. I believe since '97. Last I came through there, about a year and a half ago it still looked the same. I have been through several airports and it's sad to say IAH is the crappiest big airport I've seen. I keep on telling myself and friends that come through, that IAH is progressing. I'm sure it takes time and it's not an easy process, but it looks like they're in no hurry.

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Terminal E is done, the international arrivals building is done, and the remodeling of Terminal C is underway and probably close to finished. I don't know if IAH is the ugliest big airport I've seen, but it probably has the worst selection of retail and restaurants of any large airport. Terminal E is the exception, because Continental insisted on letting the concessions instead of allowing the city.

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Forget the art. 

The jetways are still dirty.

Getting off the BA flights it's quite a nasty sight and smell.

I live here and have grown to expect it, but I wonder what our visitors think.

Terminal D (non-Continental intl flights) is definitely the worst of the 5 terminals at IAH. If the visitors come in on Continental, they are treated to a much nicer experience, though the walk to immigration and customs is a bit longer than it should be.

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I also love the mosaics in the corridors connecting the A-B garage to Terminals A and B. They are quite beautiful.

IAH isn't the prettiest of airports, but it's far from the ugliest I've been in. Hobby has always been much worse, although the new concourse there is nice. If they ever finish the rest of that project Hobby will be pretty nice overall, but as it is now, parts of two of the original concourses and lobby areas are still there and still look bad. Dallas Love is also pretty run down, and nothing compares to the old Chicago Midway and Detroit terminals when it comes to nastiness. Thankfully both of those are long gone.

As for IAH, the main project in the terminals still going on is the renovation of the C south concourse. I'm in there every week and it's progressing along, but there's still several months worth of work to go. The Terminal C ticket lobby and baggage claim areas also haven't been done, and I think they are also part of Continental's plan for renovating that terminal.

Now if the city could just get the TerminaLink people mover extended to Terminal A so that transfers between that terminal and the others don't require leaving the secured area to use the underground train or the transfer shuttle buses, which require a ticket on Delta, Continental, Continental Express, or Continental Connection/Colgan.

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I agree on the termalink expansion. It think it may be proposed. Hobby is coming along nicely. They plan to finish out that airport to add several more gates than currently since Southwest is planning to add more flights.

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sucks. The Houston Airport System isn't going to contribute? I wish they would.

The only reason I was saying it was planned is because in a presentation by the Houston Airport Director at a recent ASCE meeting, he emphasized completing termalink to all terminals. They even had computer rendered video for the presentation.

Also the final build out for Hobby makes pretty much a brand new airport.

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Well, I for one hate the walk Continental makes you take now that terminals C&E share the same baggage and car lot pickup. Making people take a 15 minute walk from a brand-new gate through a maze of walkways, escalators and construction after a full work day in another city and 3 hour flight does not make for a happy customer.

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Yes,

the first time I flew out of terminal E, I had to ask for help to get there. It was a trek to get over there. Does anyone know if this is the final configuration?

I think the Houston Airport site has some renderings.

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Yes,

the first time I flew out of terminal E, I had to ask for help to get there.  It was a trek to get over there.  Does anyone know if this is the final configuration?

E was originally for international flights only, so the sterile customs/immigration/baggage area was designed with that in mind. Since it was well into construction when 9/11 hit, last-minute changes had to be made to allow domestic service as well (to accomodate a drastic change in demand). Unfortunately, the original design couldn't be altered in a material way to allow non-sterile passengers into the baggage area since it is comingled with immigration and customs, hence the long trek back to C to get your bags.

If you are arriving from an international destination, you will see how it was originally intended to operate!

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sucks.  The Houston Airport System isn't going to contribute?  I wish they would. 

The only reason I was saying it was planned is because in a presentation by the Houston Airport Director at a recent ASCE meeting, he emphasized completing termalink to all terminals.  They even had computer rendered video for the presentation.

Also the final build out for Hobby makes pretty much a brand new airport.

You may be right that the airport is planning to extend the terminalink. But they would have to pay for it, not Continental. I heard about Continental not extending it from a friend who works there.

To get from Terminal E to the C baggage claim take the diagonal hall that connects E to the second level of C, then take the elevator down. It is more direct.

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The Airport System has plans to extend TerminaLink between Terminals A and B. However it's a funding issue; when they get the money it will be done.

As for the trek between E and C, here are several tips from someone who uses those terminals on a weekly basis:

- If arriving at E gates E-11 - E-24, you can save some walking to baggage claim in C by using TerminaLink. Follow the signs in Terminal E for Terminals A, B, and D and gates C-14 - C-27. These will guide you to the center of Terminal E (by the Borders bookstore and Continental Presidents Club), where a skybridge leads to Terminal D and the D-E TerminaLink station. It's a relatively short walk past the security checkpoints for international passengers to the escalators up to TerminaLink. The ride takes less than a minute to Terminal C. Go down the escalator into Terminal C, turn right, and after a very short walk you'll see the escalator down to the C baggage claim to the left.

- If arriving at gates E-1 - E-10, follow the signs in Terminal E to baggage claim. You'll go over a skybridge/ramp to the parking garage building that has moving sidewalks. After you go past the security checkpoint keep walking straight ahead and the walkway will take you directly into the Terminal C lobby, where you can go down two levels on the elevator, stairs, or escalators to baggage claim. Until recently this did involve walking through a short section of the parking garage but this has been changed. There is now a fully enclosed walkway the entire distance. DO NOT use this route if you are simply connecting between flights in C and E, as it does require leaving the secured area and you'll have to re-clear security at the other terminal.

- If flying out of Terminal E on a domestic Continental flight, you can often save some walking by reversing the route above. Check in at C, then go up one level to the walkway to Terminal E. There is a security checkpoint before you start down the ramp from the parking garage to E. Lines here often aren't too bad, but this checkpoint does keep shorter hours than the main checkpoint in C, so if you're flying out extremely early or late, you might ask an agent before going up there if the checkpoint is open.

Personally, I don't think the walk between E and C through the concourses is all that bad, and it's a lot shorter than disctances I've walked between flights at other major hub airports like MSP and PHL. Before and after getting on flights where I'll be sitting for a few hours I prefer to walk around some and stretch my legs, and the walk from the C lobby through the south councourse past gates C-43 - C-45 is a good way to do that. I often will hit Terminal E if I need to get something to eat before a flight out of C (food options are MUCH better in E) or if I want to hang out in the Presidents Club for a while, since that club is larger than the two in C, and I really like one of the bar tenders that works there.

By the way, a section of the C south concourse that has been closed for some time for renovation is scheduled to reopen tomorrow. After all the C gates are back in service you'll see fewer domestic flights out of E, as part of the reason there have been so many over there was that C has been under renovation for the last 18 months.

If you ever need a terminal map of IAH, there's a pretty good one on the Continental Airlines website.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've seen a couple of posts mentioning the mosaic mural between Terminal B and the A/B garage. I was very involved in that project during construction. The mural work was conceived, designed and managed by Dixie Friend Gay, an artist here in Houston. It was fabricated in Mexico (over the course of a year) of many shades of glass tiles, including some with gold leaf layers to produce a shimmering effect (as in the dragonfly's wings). It was assembled completely in Mexico, then cut into sections, crated and shipped. Installation in Houston took several weeks.

As a side note, there are several more components than just the mural. The terrazzo floor was designed to mimic a bayou flowing toward Terminal B. There are cast bronze creatures of various kinds inset into the terrazzo. Also, in the center of the rotunda there are several theater lights that project leaf patterns onto the floor, which has a terrazzo design derived from the root patterns of a tree.

Integrating complicated artwork such as the mural into the design and construction of a building takes a tremendous amount of work. I'm happy that at least some people appreciate it.

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