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The iconic JFK airport terminal to become a luxury jet-age chic hotel

Anastasia Dagaeva
December 18, 2017

There’s nothing even remotely glamorous about sleeping in an airport hotel. But the opening of the TWA Hotel — a 505-room remastering of the spaceship-like Eero Saarinen terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport — should change that. 

The complex is being built by MCR, the seventh largest hotel owner-operator in the United States. New renderings and design plans, reveal exciting new aspects about the project. They include, a restaurant inside a refurbished TWA jet — which dates to 1962, like the terminal itself—and a rooftop pool for weary travelers, Bloomberg reports.

Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center terminal building will serve as the hotel lobby; at 18 580 square meters the lobby is thought to be the largest hotel lobby in the world. Hotel guests and passengers from every terminal will have easy access to the TWA Hotel via the AirTrain as well as through the famous Saarinen passenger tubes that connect directly to JFK’s Terminal 5. 

The TWA Hotel will also house a Jet Age and mid-century modern museum that will chronicle the mid-century modern design era and the rise of the Jet Age, exhibiting mid-century furniture, TWA uniforms, David Klein destination posters, inflight amenities and other TWA memorabilia – much of which has been donated by the TWA employee community, reports Airport World magazine.

“The iconic terminal’s form was inspired by the thrill of trans-atlantic air travel. For a generation of international travelers, it was a memorable first impression of America, an Ellis Island for the jet age. In 1962, when its opening was broadcast on national TV, the Trans World Flight Center was the most distinctive example of corporate-showpiece architecture, a movement led by Eero Saarinen himself, with projects such as the General Motors Technical Center, in Warren, Michigan, and IBM’s research center north of New York City. “Like a good advertising agency,” the critic Reyner Banham wrote of Saarinen that year, “he bestowed status, improved the image.” 

Yet even as the terminal captured the futuristic spirit of the ’60s, it was soon rendered out-of-date by the demands of larger planes and crowds. Annexes were built to accommodate the jumbo jet; as security requirements changed, a phalanx of metal detectors was added, cutting the atrium in two and creating lines that sometimes stretched through the terminal’s doors. By the time TWA went out of business, in 2001, the building suffered from a predicament common to iconic mid-century architecture: It was too useless to live, and too beautiful to die, comments The Atlantic

The TWA Hotel project has the support of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. "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," The Governor said during the hotel's groundbreaking last year. According to MCR, the project is privately funded with no government subsidies. The hotel is slated to open in 2019, according to Business Insider.