Will Rogers World Airport
Public art for Oklahoma City’s 2021 airport expansion: “OKConnected”
In 2018 the city of Oklahoma City released a call to artists for an 80 million dollar expansion of Will Rogers World Airport. The request was for proposals of original artwork to be installed into 44,000 square feet of terrazzo flooring and 4,000 square feet of etched glass.
Matt’s proposal, titled “OKConnected” was selected from over 35 national and international entries. OKConnected tells the story of Oklahoma City’s unique past, it’s colorful culture and it’s people.
The Oklahoma City airport expansion was completed and opened to the public in September of 2021.
A R T I S T ’ S S T A T E M E N T
Since its founding in 1889, Oklahoma City has experienced a series of transformative booms and busts. With each challenge and change, the City has reconnected into something familiar but entirely new. Like a mosaic, Oklahoma City’s story is a collection of many pieces. These individual historical fragments form a whole that is like no other place on earth. They have shaped today from the past.
OKConnected is the story of Oklahoma City, designed as a welcome mat for the city’s front door: Will Rogers World Airport.
Here, the concept of connection is more than the typical connotation one might have with an airport. More than merely people to places. It’s a connection of Oklahoma’s past to present. It’s present to future, and of earth to sky. A connection of Oklahoma City to the world.
Oklahoma City’s past to future
Terrazzo floor design
The floor of the airport lobby presents a visual narrative of Oklahoma City’s extraordinary and storied history. Utilizing colors of Oklahoma red dirt, prairie and sky, the design creates a compositional flow for departing travelers, setting the stage for Oklahoma City’s unique culture located beyond the security checkpoint.
The northernmost portion of the lobby floor is Oklahoma’s prehistory: layers of earth, a dinosaur and oil reserves. Waving wheat, an American bison, and a buffalo hunt embody the connection to the land. Five teepees sitting upon these elements form the foundation of the remaining artistic composition. A cannon shot spans the width of the space, illustrating the event that established Oklahoma City: the Land Run of 1889.
An arrow being shot from a bow creates the body of Oklahoma’s state bird, the Scissortailed Flycatcher as it soars into a bird-filled sky toward the sun. This is a representation of humankind’s inspiration, from nature, to fly and Oklahoman’s aspirations to reach new heights far into the future.
Oklahoma City’s culture, industries and people
Terrazzo floor design
The main atrium and concourse floor features a series of medallion designs celebrating the colorful culture and commercial enterprises of Oklahoma. Sports, music, hospitality, and places welcome the traveler inside the 57 foot lasso of Oklahoma’s favorite son and the airport’s namesake, Will Rogers.
Adjacent medallions feature four of Oklahoma’s leading industries: aerospace, agriculture, biotechnology and energy. A basketweave, with 39 arrowheads, representing Oklahoma’s 39 tribes, welcomes travelers to the capital of Native America. Lastly a medallion of an empty chair representing the importance and meaning of the Oklahoma National Memorial to all Oklahomans.
The connection of earth to sky
Mezzanine glass curtain wall design
The mezzanine level glass, or sky, encircles the main atrium with an undulating wave formed by hundreds of individual characters. Each “Weatherglyph” is an actual meteorological symbol used historically by meteorologists to represent specific and unique weather events.
Stan Carroll was instrumental in the execution and compositional design of the overall Weatherglyph flow. Learn more about Stan Caroll’s work at www.beyondmetal.com
Profound thanks and gratitude to the following people who were essential in making this project possible:
David Allen Company (Josh, Ian, Brooke and crew)
First American’s Museum
Oklahoma Arts Council
Oklahoma City Arts Commission
Oklahoma City Airport Trust
The Selection Jury
And especially my Mother, Dee Gardner, who always encouraged me to follow my passion.