Iconic TWA terminal at JFK undergoing overhaul for new hotel

By Doug G. Ware   |   May 22, 2017 at 8:38 PM
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May 22 (UPI) -- Renovations at the historic TWA terminal at New York City's JFK International Airport are fully underway, and the public was given a glimpse Monday of the major overhaul.

Owners of the iconic terminal -- which has been showcased in photos, television shows and motion pictures over the decades -- held a press tour Monday to show how the transformation is coming along.

Designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, the Trans-World Airlines Flight Center opened in 1962 at what was then Idlewild Airport. Among the many unique features was a fully electronic information board -- an entirely new concept at the time -- and an analog clock hanging in a white pod from the ceiling.

"The TWA Hotel at JFK International Airport will preserve the iconic Eero Saarinen terminal, restoring the landmark to its Jet Age splendor for generations to enjoy," MCR Development says on its website. "The complete rehabilitation of the national landmark to its 1962 glory includes restoring iconic interiors by Charles Eames, Raymond Loewy, and Warren Platner."

The terminal was an architectural marvel upon its opening, featuring the gull-winged "head house" that served for decades as one of the most recognizable parts of the airport.

Construction crews are deep into the renovation, as parts of the terminal have been removed. The iconic red carpet in one of the white passenger arrival "tubes" (a second tube with black flooring was added in 1969) has been partially pulled up.

The flight center closed in 2001 when TWA ceased operations. Since then, it has been part of several proposals and was once intended to transform into a smaller boutique hotel. MCR's plans, though, will make it a 505-room hotel -- the first full service lodging facility on JFK's property.

"The TWA Hotel at JFK International Airport will deliver a world-class airport hotel to New York," the developers say. "The completely privately funded redevelopment will include 50,000 square feet of conference, event and meeting space and eight food and beverage outlets. The anticipated LEED-certified hotel will also have a 10,000 square foot public observation deck."

The hotel is scheduled to open next year.

The historic terminal has been featured in a number of films over the years, including Catch Me If You Can (2002), for a scene featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

In 2005, the National Park Service listed the flight center on the National Register of Historic Places. It became a New York City landmark in 1994.

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