A treasured mural welcomed travelers to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s Terminal 2 for almost 60 years. The terminal was demolished but the mural has a new home. Artist Paul Coze’s three-piece work, The Phoenix, was unveiled by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego on a wall at the airport’s Rental Car Center in October 2021.
Global design firm Stantec, working with general contractor Kiewit, and International Chimney Corporation, facilitated the move of the three-panel, 75-foot-wide mural. It was the City of Phoenix's first piece of commissioned art where the public was invited to participate in the process. The mural is made of 52 different materials, some are traditional such as oil paint and mosaic tiles and some are nontraditional media like aluminum sheeting and sand gathered from around Arizona.
“The Phoenix is well worth the visit as it’s in great shape, and you can stand right below each of the panels,” Ed Dobbins, a Phoenix historian, says. “They look better than I ever recall seeing them, especially since 9/11 resulted in reconfiguring Terminal 2, making it hard to see all three. There are also displays with a nice explanation of their meaning, how they were made, and an artist’s bio.”
A unique part of the $49 million work was the mural created by Coze, a Lebanon-born artist who moved to Phoenix in 1951, where he founded an art school and created eight other public art pieces in the city. The mural represents Phoenix’s past, present, and future, which took Coze 18 months to complete, for which he received $10,000.
The artwork relocation is part of Stantec’s more extensive project, which includes Terminal 2 demolition and the subsequent construction of a new aircraft parking apron. Terminal 2, which closed in February 2020, outlived its intended life by about 20 years. Its removal provides space for larger aircraft operations and parking positions near the Terminal 3 South Concourse.
“We started design work in January 2019,” Richard Zych, Stantec Project Manager of the Terminal 2 Project, says. “Phase 1 of the project included the concourse demolition and replacement of the existing apron. Phase 2 of the project entailed the demolition of the terminal processor and ticketing and baggage make-up building areas, as well as the mural relocation.” Construction began in February 2020 and is slated to be completed in early 2022.
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Jan/Feb 2022 issue, Vol. 11, No. 1.