ATLANTA — The cost of an art installation designed to create a virtual forest at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has ballooned to $4 million — more than triple what it would have cost when the project was first proposed 10 years ago.
Steven Waldeck’s “Flight Paths” would be the airport’s most expensive and ambitious single project to date if approved. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports airport officials will soon ask the city council to OK the project.
The installation, which would be paid for with airport funds set aside from fees, is raising questions about how much is too much to pay for airport art. Expensive artwork in airports is not new, with art projects and budgets in the millions of dollars at airports in cities such as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Seattle and Dallas.
Such a project in Atlanta could be key to defining Atlanta as an international city, said Eddie Granderson, who oversees Atlanta’s Public Art Program.
“It should have significant works of art that greet citizens as they come into the Atlanta area,” said Granderson, whose program is separate from the airport art program.
But many Atlantans and travelers may not even see the project. “Flight Paths” is planned for the underground walkway between Concourses A and B — the airport’s busiest — but most travelers use the Plane Train connecting the terminals.
If approved, the project will be funded as part of Atlanta’s public art master plan, which calls for setting aside 1 percent of certain spending for art. The funds for airport construction come from passenger facility charges on air fares, lease payments by airlines and other sources such as parking and concessions revenue.