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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Wednesday, the new east wing of Will Rogers World Airport opened to regular operations. The addition will add more space to the security checkpoint, four additional gates, and new concession options.

At the ribbon-cutting event Friday, John Semtner with FSB, Inc., the engineering firm for the addition described the addition as “bringing the ‘world’ back into Will Rogers World Airport.”

Leaders believe that the addition will position the airport as a world-class travel destination.

And, the east wing brings with it a new approach to food and retail at the airport showing off the products of Oklahoma City’s own unique food and retail brands.

Retiring Airports Director Mark Kranenburg stated, “It’s been exciting to watch this project evolve. We started conceptualizing this project in 2013 and I’m proud to have been involved with it.”

Major addition

The $87 million, 133,000 square foot addition to the existing 410,000 square feet of the existing terminal will accommodate four additional gates with one being capable of handling wide-body aircraft typical of world flights.

Most important to the comfort of people traveling through the airport is the increased capacity that the east wing will bring to the security checkpoint flow.

The wing will now have the only entry security checkpoint and is designed in a much wider area than before with hopes of moving arriving travelers through quickly where they will have access to gates, amenities, and a much wider concourse.

An exit checkpoint will be in another part of the airport in an effort to eliminate the crowding of exiting and entering travelers through the same security area.

Will Rogers World Airport
City and airport leaders visit the new security checkpoint in the east wing the week before opening. TSA agent stands and rope line equipment will be placed in the dark brown area. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

The new wing gives non-ticketed visitors the ability to go upstairs to a 4,200 square foot gallery where they can view airport operations on the other side of the security checkpoint. From that vantage point, they can view the new artwork on display embedded in the terrazzo floors.

“The airport expansion represents a seminal milestone in Oklahoma City’s continued growth,” said FSB Principal John Semtner. “We have appreciated the experience working with City leaders, HOK, and Timberlake Construction to bring this vision to life. Today represents years of planning, research, and collaboration for the purpose of improving the overall Oklahoma City travel experience.”

The art

The artist chosen to produce the art in the terrazzo floor was Matt Goad. At the ribbon-cutting, he said that his overarching objective was to “represent the story of Oklahoma City in a modern and beautiful way.” The overall concept he has titled “OKC Connected.”

Will Rogers World Airport
Artist Matt Goad was chosen to design the terrazzo artwork that adorns the floors throughout the new east wing. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

“Here, the concept of connection is more than the typical connotation,” said Goad. One might have with an airport more than merely people to places it’s a connection of past to present a present of future and avert the sky, a connection of Oklahoma City to the world.”

He said that the colors and designs are supposed to be calming as they tell the history of the City of Oklahoma City.

One of the boldest of the artworks in the floor is a stylized representation of Will Rogers, famed humorist, writer, and actor after whom the airport is named. Rogers was raised on a ranch in Claremore and was accomplished with a lariat which is 57 feet long in the art piece.

Will Rogers World Airport
Matt Goad’s stylized design giving tribute to Will Rogers and different aspects of life in OKC is in the terrazzo floor just beyond the security checkpoint. The white object toward the top is a bench that will allow travelers to put their shoes back on after going through the security scanners. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

“Inside we have hospitality, sports, music, and entertainment, and places where each has kind of its own color family,” Goad said. “That’s kind of the big one — the big sort of welcome mat to the airport.”

Other terrazzo art includes:

  • Symbols for weather are a part of the floor-to-ceiling mezzanine glass.
  • Medallions for each of aerospace, energy, biotech, medical research agriculture are embedded.
  • The entry “welcome mat” honors Native America with 39 arroheads representing the 39 tribes in Oklahoma.
  • One of the medallions symbolizes the Oklahoma City National Memorial to the Oklahoma City bombing.

“I feel like in general, this is this was kind of not my opportunity to express myself in a way … but to tell that story of Oklahoma City, and I couldn’t be more honored,” concluded Goad.

Local brands added

Local brands that Oklahoma Cityans will recognize once in place at the airport are:

  • Plenty Merchantile
  • Tin Lizzie’s
  • Elemental Coffee
  • Hatch
  • Osteria
  • and others

Leading national brands including Starbucks, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Tripadvisor, and recognizable airport concepts like the award-winning Vino Volo will are also being featured.

Overall coordination and leadership for all concessions are by airport retailer and restaurateur Paradies Lagardère.

“Will Rogers World Airport has been an outstanding partner and we’re absolutely thrilled to expand our offerings by introducing this world-class concessions program,” said Gregg Paradies, President, and CEO of Paradies Lagardère.

Will Rogers World Airport
Detail of the Will Rogers art just beyond the security checkpoint in the new east wing of the Will Rogers World Airport. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

About Will Rogers World Airport

Will Rogers World Airport is the city’s commercial airport and accommodates over three and a half million travelers each year. The airport now serves 22 nonstop airports with an average of 75 daily departures. Will Rogers World Airport is owned by the City of Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Airport Trust oversees the management and operation of the airport.

Last Updated September 16, 2021, 5:27 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor