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Historic mural finds new home at Phoenix Sky Harbor


A mural that welcomed passengers to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s Terminal 2 for almost 60 years has a new home at the gateway’s Rental Car Center.

Indeed, it dominates a wall at the Rental Car Center and can clearly be seen by visitors as they leave the rental counters and exit the lobby to pick up their vehicles.


Global design firm Stantec, working with general contractor Kiewit and International Chimney Corporation, facilitated the move of the three-panel, 75-foot-wide mural that is made of 52 materials and was the City of Phoenix’s first piece of commissioned art where the public was invited to participate in the process.

The mural contains traditional materials such as oil paint and mosaic tiles as well as non-traditional media like aluminium sheeting and sand gathered from around Arizona.

The artwork relocation is part of the larger Terminal 2 demolition, making way for construction of a new aircraft parking apron.

According to the airport, Terminal 2, had outlived its intended life span by about 20 years when closed in February 2020. Its removal provides space for larger aircraft operations and parking positions near the Terminal 3 South Concourse.

“The removal, preservation, and reinstallation of this iconic artwork was truly a once-in-a-lifetime project,” said Mark Koester, Stantec principal and senior airport engineer.

“There was unique co-ordination and a special variety of skills needed to give ‘The Phoenix’ a new home. It’s wonderful to see this part of the community and airport history continue in a prominent place for many to see and appreciate.”

To move the mural pieces—each 16-by-25 feet—the wall behind them at Terminal 2 was removed, a steel support structure was used, the panels were lowered onto a flatbed trailer, and the panels were moved at night to protect them from weather extremes.

The panels were stored in an airport hangar until their new location at the Rental Car Center was ready. Stantec designed a new wall specifically for the artwork at the Rental Car Center, including special lighting to highlight the beauty of the mural.

In addition to the mural, the airport is providing important context by creating display cases to showcase historical documents, models for specific details of the mural, interpretive text, and other mural-related materials. Visitors can use spotting scopes to look closely at the mural’s elements.

The Stantec design team provided civil engineering, architecture, lighting design, and construction administration and inspection services, including documentation of the move by one of the firm’s art historians.

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