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After sitting vacant for 15 years, the Trans World Airlines (TWA) Terminal, located at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, will receive new life as a 505-room hotel. It will be the first on-site hotel for the JFK Airport and is set to open in 2018.
The TWA terminal originally opened its doors in 1962 and was designed by architect Eero Saarinen to resemble a bird in flight. Its layout, featuring a central main terminal with clusters of gates that branch out, was one of the first of its kind. The TWA terminal also featured enclosed passenger jetways, baggage carousels and electronic flight schedule boards. The main terminal is constructed of four curved steel-reinforced concrete shells that radiate out from a central point. Two of the curved concrete shells, the “wings of the bird,” feature purple-tinted glass windows that angle out as they extend upward toward the roof line and offer views of planes landing and departing. The interior spaces maintain the same fluidity as the curved exterior with floors that swoop into stairwells and walls that curve seamlessly into the floors.
Despite its architectural beauty, the functionality of the TWA Terminal was hindered by its ability to accommodate the development of larger airplanes and an increase in passenger traffic. In 1994, the building was voted as an official landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, but after continued financial trouble, TWA filed bankruptcy and the original terminal was shut down in 2001. While ideas were proposed to repurpose the building, most were rejected or failed and the building was left dormant. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and efforts later began to restore the building to its original beauty.
The iconic main TWA terminal will remain intact and become a showcase element in the development of the new TWA Hotel. It will be flanked by two crescent-shaped buildings, which will be home to guest rooms, eight restaurants, and conference rooms. A new cocktail bar and nightclub will also be incorporated into the original building. The ambitious project plans to incorporate technology which will enable the building to generate its own power and is expected to be LEED-certified.
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