The Santa Barbara Airport Airline Terminal hosted its “The Art of Travel” gala last weekend in celebration of its new terminal’s public unveiling.

The construction project’s designing and building process began in 1990 and cost $54 million to complete. The event showcased the two-story facility’s features including five gates, a restaurant, a tapas bar, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf shops, a courtyard, glass boarding bridge and artworks from Santa Barbara artists.

According to Airport Assistant Director Hazel Johns, the celebration helped display and fund the area’s artistic talent.

“First, we wanted to celebrate the art in the new building and second we wanted to collect revenue for local art programs,” Johns said. “each gala ticket was $125, which covered the cost of the event. $25 of each ticket went to the Airline Terminal Airport Public Arts Program to continue to support local artists.”

The building’s architects designed the facility to achieve the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design “Silver” status for using environmentally conscious compoents. The terminal is comprised of recycled and renewable materials including bamboo ticket counters and “Forestry Stewardship Council” approved lumber for over 95 percent of its wooden components.

Although the project’s original concept aimed to achieve “Silver” status, Airport Planner Andrew Bermond said the terminal could potentially earn a “Gold” rating.

“Receiving LEED “Silver” status was a condition of the project according to the 2006 Santa Barbara City Council’s Green Building Ordinance,” Bermond said. “Currently, we are halfway through the LEED certification process. We are really hoping to get the “Gold” here and it looks like it could happen. If we do get the “Gold” designation, we will be the first 100 percent LEED “Gold” airport terminal in the U.S.”

Additionally, the new terminal incorporates dual pane windows that more effectively insulate the building to lower air-conditioning and heating expenses. The airport also planted drought-resistant vegetation requiring only seasonal rainwater in the garden and courtyard to reduce the water bill and use of the region’s fresh water resources.

The low-flow sink and toilets and waterless urinals are eco-friendly and expected to save one million gallons of water each year, according to Bermond.

Air Marketing Coordinator Terri Gibson said the administrator is optimistic in regard to the airport’s environmental and aesthetic consciousness of the new terminal’s construction.

“We are very proud that such a complex building can achieve such a high LEED rating while representing the community through art and better serving travel for people in the community,” Gibson said.

The airport’s administration expects the terminal to become operational sometime in August, but have not set a specific date for its opening.