Turning a defunct airport terminal into a luxury hotel might sound like a crazy idea, but that’s exactly what’s happening at New York City’s JFK airport. However, this isn’t just any old terminal: the building in question is the TWA Flight Center, a sleek and stylised mid-century modern landmark designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, best known for the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
With a crisp white interior, space-inspired departure boards and streamlined cherry-red furniture designed by Charles Eames, the TWA Flight Center made a major impression on air travellers when it opened in 1962, but the terminal was closed in 2001 after TWA’s merger with American Airlines.
Now, it’s preparing to take on a new life as the TWA Hotel. Set to open in 2018, the 505-room hotel will include meeting and event spaces, a cocktail bar, a nightclub, a restaurant, and a food hall featuring local options from New York City boroughs.
Developer MCR believes these amenities will make the TWA Hotel a destination in its own right, in addition to being a haven for the thousands of travellers who pass through JFK each day. New York governor Andrew Cuomo agrees. “The conversion of the TWA Flight Center into a new state-of-the-art hotel will preserve this iconic landmark while cementing JFK’s status as a crown jewel of aviation,” he said in a statement.
Renderings released by Cuomo’s office last month show an expansion that is in keeping with Saarinen’s futuristic aesthetic (and total rejection of right angles), with the addition of two long, curving wings on either side of the original building. The developers plan to restore and use much of the Eames furniture to further preserve the building’s unique look. The TWA Hotel project joins a growing list of high-end airport hotels with interesting architectural pedigrees, including the Westin at Denver International Airport and the Hilton at Amsterdam Schiphol.