Published August 30, 2021
RYAN! inspecting one of the 22 glass panels featuring clouds, which will float over Concourse B. (Credit: Brock Johnson)
Pssst! Want a sneak peek at something cool? We’re sharing regular “Work in Progress” snapshots of what we’re up to. Up next: RYAN! Feddersen’s installation in Concourse B.
When you enter the new Concourse B, you won't just see and feel "Inhabitance," RYAN! Feddersen's installation honoring the varied terrain of the PNW. You'll move through it: Metal lenticular portraits that appear to shift as you pass (think of those ridged stickers that look like they’re blinking as you move them back and forth). A rainbow-dappled sky with shimmering glass clouds. A wood-slat wall incised with patterns.
The clouds in RYAN!s PDX installation have a moiré effect and may appear to roll as you look at them. (Credit: Glasmalerei Peters Studios)
In 2020, we spoke to the Tacoma artist, who is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, about the origins of her piece. She’s been hard at work getting everything ready to go, and so we wanted to check in with RYAN! on the eve of the work’s November unveiling.
How is the installation going?
Things are coming along well! Everything has gone through final prototyping and is coming up to the last push.
Proposal rendering of the intricately designed wall in Concourse B. Want to see it move? Just step left or right. (Credit: ZGF Architects + RYAN! Feddersen)
How has the work evolved as you've fabricated it?
In essence, the work has stayed very true to the proposal, but some details have altered. I had originally imagined the wood insets working differently, but wood moves over time and curved cuts move more. We switched to a routed effect, so there's much more structural stability.
Were there any creative challenges you didn't anticipate?
When I designed the piece, it was all pre-COVID. I planned to travel to all the sites I photographed [for the lenticular portraits] — and did, but travel was very different during COVID than I anticipated. Luckily, I have a mini cargo van, so I could drive around and camp in the car with my partner.
To photograph the landscapes in her installation, RYAN! drove all over the state in her trusty van. (Credit: Brock Johnson)
Have you gotten to see the work on site yet?
I've only seen renderings and tabletop models. They did build a mini prototype in a disused corner of the airport with a portion of the wall and window box. We demoed putting the metal panels in, and so I got to see how the lenticular worked at full scale. Before that, it was just math.
RYAN! has designed four lenticular portraits of Oregon landscapes that look back at you, too. Pictured is an early model and a mini prototype of the lenticular at full scale. (Credit: RYAN! Feddersen)
So you're going to see the finished piece only a little while before the public!
My background is as an installation artist, so the way of working where you plan thoroughly and make a lot of pieces and components, but cannot actually see it in person until it happens, is [familiar]. It is definitely more stressful than making a two-dimensional piece in a studio, but it's exciting and rewarding.
Here's what this year will look like for PDX (and you!)
For the past year, we've built a nine-acre roof on a prefabrication lot to the northwest of the airport. The construction crews are now installing the last component—an intricate wood lattice, sourced from sustainable Northwest forests, that will eventually cover the interior ceiling.
What you'll see: If you drive along Marine Boulevard, you can glimpse the roof's dramatic swoops in the prefab lot.
Behind all those partitions in the pre-security area, construction crews have been hollowing out the back half of the main terminal. Starting in March, the exterior structure is also coming down to create a more open, spacious footprint. It may get noisy for a few months!
What you'll see: Not much, in fact. But when you’re in the ticket lobby and going through security, you may hear and feel what’s happening on the other side of those partitions. We're strategizing ways to counteract the sound, including free earplugs at the front doors and a sensory room in Concourse D.
Next, we’re erecting 34 giant steel Y-shaped columns to hold up the roof. Right now, construction crews are driving steel pilings deep into the ground to anchor these columns. Over the course of a few months, we’ll erect the Y columns one by one.
What you'll see: You probably won't notice—most are going up overnight behind the temporary walls. Late-night travelers will occasionally have to walk a few yards around an installation site.
Once the biggest section of the wood roof is fully assembled, the project team will break it back down into 20 "cassettes". During the summer and fall, Hoffman-Skanska and Mammoet will maneuver each cassette into place over the existing roof. It will take several days to place each cassette, and the work will happen overnight — depending on the section we’re placing, we may guide late-night travelers around a short detour.
What you'll see: Unless you're flying into PDX on a late-night flight, or camped out on Marine Drive at 2 a.m., you won't see much. If you walk to the ends of Concourse C or Concourse D and look back toward the main terminal, you'll catch a glimpse of the airport's new roofline.
In addition to the big projects, you’ll see a host of new amenities appear throughout the airport. A new play area in Concourse E. New art. New restaurants and cafes. (Lardo! Screen Door! Good Coffee!) You're almost guaranteed to encounter something new every time you visit the airport — and we're not talking barricades.