Beneath the gaze of vivid fiesta dancers painted by Channing Peake, 600 guests will file into the Santa Barbara Airport’s new terminal on Friday for a party of their own. The celebration will mark the grand opening of the 72,000-square-foot, two-story terminal.
The Peake Mural that hangs above the terminal’s new escalator is just one of many gems of local art featured in the new building.
On Tuesday, Noozhawk accompanied airport Director Karen Ramsdell for a sneak peek at the progress.
The party may be days away, but construction crews were busily working on the terminal as Ramsdell showed off the improvements.
“It’s a hubbub of activity,” she said.
Ramsdell said the project experienced some delays because of rains this spring and that she expects the terminal to be operational by July 27.
The wooden beams hovering over the new terminal lobby have been painted by local artist Vidya Gauci. At the center of the beams is a 1930s majestic lantern, on loan from the Santa Barbara County Courthouse that was being stored in the basement until it was refurbished and installed in the new building. Down the corridor, local artist Lori Ann David created a 20-foot circular mosaic, designed in conjunction with Gauci.
“The architecture is beautiful, the building is functional and the art is the icing on the cake,” Ramsdell said.
Up the stairs and escalator slated for the building, the terminal will have five gates, a restaurant and tapas bar, a gift shop and a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. A roomy security area for the Transportation Security Administration to operate is also a huge improvement, according to Ramsdell, who said the screening area eventually will host a full body scanner as well.
Restrooms located after the security area, missing in the current terminal, also are expected to be a big plus.
“It’s not an issue anywhere else, but it’s a big deal for us,” Ramsdell said.
Three all-glass boarding bridges from the terminal to the planes will allow people boarding and disembarking to have a clear view of the slough, nearby Goleta Beach and the mountains. The new terminal will be the second in the nation to have them.
At a cost of $54 million, construction of the new airline terminal is funded primarily by bonds, with the rest supplemented by Federal Aviation Administration grants. No local tax dollars are being used for the project, and the airport is funded by user fees and tenant rents.
The center terminal of the current airport building, a historic core built in the 1940s by United Airlines, will be preserved and moved to the new terminal’s east end. The new terminal is also aiming for a LEED silver efficiency rating.
Ramsdell said Tuesday that new airlines coming to the area won’t be determined by the expanded capacity. However, “as the economy improves, I suspect we’ll see more interest,” she said.
Click here to purchase tickets to Friday’s gala. An open house will be held for the general public from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.