Monday, March 28, 2016

The legendary TWA Flight Center terminal of JFK airport

It's perhaps New York JFK's airport most famous terminal but it remains empty during the last 15 years. The TWA Flight Center terminal was designed by the famous Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen exclusively for Trans World Airlines and opened in 1962 when JFK airport was known as Idlewild Airport.

Saarinen envisioned a design that would speed up processes as well as reference to TWA’s corporate identity and convey the company’s image through a bird-shaped, emblematic construction featuring a harmoniously coordinated interior. The terminal was built to span a space with a minimum of material. 

Saarinen's original design featured a prominent wing-shaped thin shell roof over the headhouse (or main terminal); unusual tube-shaped departure-arrival corridors, originally wrapped in red carpet; and tall windows enabling expansive views departing and arriving jets. The design straddles Futurism, Googie and Fantastic architecture. Both the interior and the exterior were declared a New York City Landmark in 1994. In 2005, the terminal was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The terminal was one of the first with enclosed passenger jetways, closed circuit television, a central public address system, baggage carousels, electronic schedule board and baggage scales, and the satellite clustering of gates away from the main terminal. Food and beverage services included the Constellation Club, Lisbon Lounge, and Paris Café.

As revolutionary as the design was, it was difficult to update over time to cater for the arrival of jumbo jets and the increase of passenger traffic. Moreover, terminal gates close to the street made centralized ticketing and security checkpoints difficult. Following TWA's financial deterioration during the 1990s and the eventual sale of its assets to American Airlines, the terminal ended operations in October 2001.

After its closure, there were proposals to convert the terminal into a restaurant or conference center. In September 2015, New York State governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Saarinen building will be converted into a new on-site hotel for the airport's passengers, putting an end to the site's abandonment.

Ironically, another airport terminal designed by Eero Saarinen, that of Athens Elliniko airport, remains abandoned to this day. 

SEE ALSO: More abandoned airports around the world // More abandoned places in New York // More abandoned places in the United States // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES 

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  1. Gorgeous architecture ! The colors and design are wonderful...

  2. Looks similar like NOLF2 "Underwater base".

  3. It could be used as the interior of a spaceship in a futuristic/sci fi movie.
    Awsome work!

    Greetings from portugal.

  4. I was a TWA GoldCard holder in the 80s and early 90s and remember the terminal well. As the financial circumstances of the company worsened you could get triple-flyer miles and upgrades from Ambassador (Business Class) to First on almost every flight. During the first Gulf War I once flew the Atlantic in a 747 with six passengers: five in Coach (Economy) that they shut and upgraded to Ambassador and me upgraded to the nose in solitary splendour with seven cabin crew to look after me.


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