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The Canyon

Salt Lake City International Airport | Salt Lake City, UT | Aluminum Tubing, Fabric | each wall: 22’H x 400’W x 5’D | 2020


Thinking on the way canyons are formed – over millions of years with rock slowly removed by water and air – challenges one’s perspective of time and space; a concept that poetically balances the typical rush of an airport environment. After visiting the canyons in Utah, Gordon was struck by this notion and the way light affected the weathered rock formations. The color variations and shadows, as well as the shapes and striations of the rocks influenced his design for the East and West walls of the new terminal – an area that the airport’s architecture firm, HOK, was already referring to as “the canyon”. True to its name, the new terminal resembles the shape of a canyon in that it begins with a vast open space, pinches in the middle, and opens up again. To enhance the canyon-like architectural features of the new terminal, Gordon incorporated artistic designs that would bring the beauty of Utah’s canyon landscape indoors.

Mimicking the beautifully smooth, undulating forms of canyon walls, The Canyon, Gordon’s largest installation at the airport, spans over 362 feet in length and is comprised of over 500 individual tensile membrane fins. Construction of the fins consists of an aluminum frame, wrapped with a membrane skin consisting of a Tweave Duratech® 570C fabric material and enclosed with a zipper along the back spine. To bring these fins to life, Gordon Huether Studio partnered with FabriTec Structures, LLC, North America’s leading design/build contractor specializing in tension fabric structures, and Rainier Industries to ensure outstanding craftsmanship.  A customized, changing light program, designed by Ohm Light, was integrated into the installation to recreate the warmer orange and red colors reflected in Utah’s red rock canyons during the daytime, and the cooler blue & purple hues at night; creating a fully immersive experience now viewable to all SLC airport travelers.