Lonely Planet Writer

Could this be the world's most glam airport terminal?

We have seen some amazing airport design features over the years, but the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport in New York has surely got to be one of the sleekest? Originally designed by the late architect Eero Saarinen in 1962 as a terminal for Trans World Airlines, which ceased operations in 2001, the terminal underwent a stunning six-year restoration at the hands of Beyer Blinder Belle that was completed in 2015.

The TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport in New York. Image: TWA Flight Center Hotel
The TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport in New York. Image: TWA Flight Center Hotel

The TWA Flight Center is considered to be one of the most famous icons of mid-century modernism, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although portions of the original complex have now been demolished, the remainder has been renovated and is partially encircled by a replacement terminal building. The resulting building is known as Terminal 5, and has been the home of  JetBlue Airways’ JFK operations since 2008.

The napping pods at JetBlue's Terminal 5 at JFK International Airport. Image: JetBlue
The napping pods at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK International Airport. Image: JetBlue

The new terminal features a 5100 mretail area with 22 food concessions and 35 specialty retail storesalong with free Wi-Fi, napping pods for weary travellers to take a break, and a children’s play area. The entry hall of the Gensler terminal wraps around the Saarinen head house in a crescent shapeand retains the original, iconic departure-arrival passenger tubes.

 

A redevelopment plan is currently underway by MCR Development to rehabilitate the national landmark to its original splendour and deliver the first on-site, world-class airport hotel at the location. Through a $65 million investment, the iconic terminal will be preserved for the public to enjoy and will include a museum focusing on New York City as the birthplace of the jet Age, the history of TWA Airlines, and the mid-century modern design movement. Work is expected to be complete by 2018 on the TWA Flight Center Hotel, which will have 505 guestrooms.

T5 at JFK International Airport in new York. Image: Curbed/YouTube
T5 at JFK International Airport in new York. Image: Curbed/YouTube