The Chicago Athenaeum BACK TO HOMEPAGE >
American Arch.
TWA FLIGHT CENTER AT JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - Architects: Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners LLP.

TWA FLIGHT CENTER AT JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT -
Jamaica, New York, 2011


Architects: Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners LLP.
Original Architect: Eero Saarinen (1956-1962)
Associate Architects: Department of Engineering, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Developer: André Balazs Properties
Client: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
General Contractor: VRH Construction Corp
General Contractor: T. Moriarty & Son Inc.
Structural Engineers: Robert Silman Associates


Project Description

The TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport in New York City, designed by Eero Saarinen, is one of the most important icons of modem architecture. Opened in 1962, the building is a symbol of both the expressive idealism of the 1960s and of Saarinen's genius in innovative and creative design.
An experiment in aviation technology incorporating the first use of jetways and baggage carousels, the building itself is a structural tour-de-force: the four thinshell concrete lobes are in perfect balance, fully supported by only four piers. Over time, the airline industry quickly outpaced Saarinen's unique design. The building could not be readily expanded or adapted and was subject to a series of compromising alterations and additions accommodating new demands of capacity, security, accessibility and passenger amenity. Furthermore, due to financial losses, TWA was not able to maintain the finely detailed building, and in addition to the sympathetic alterations, the character-defining ceramic tile interior finish continued to degrade.
In 2002, the funds were allocated to stabilize the building, rendering it secure and weather-tight. Concurrently, a strategy for restoration and redevelopment was formulated, based on extensive research, interviews with surviving design team members, and analysis of archival materials. Central objectives of the restoration included exterior improvements to remove inappropriate additions, repair of failing concrete restoration of the historic landside entrance; removal of asbestos-containing material on the entire underside of the concrete shell and replacement with a new acoustic coating, and restoration of the predominant public areas of the Terminal, from the main entrance through the lower and upper lobbies and up to the tubes. Returned to its finely-detailed former glory, the TWA Flight Center is fully prepared for its new life in the twenty-first century, where it is poised to once again serve a vital role at JFK International Airport, the most internationally-trafficked airport in North America.
Through its restoration and redevelopment, the Terminal represents the most fundamental act of sustainable design - the redeployment of existing resources - and provides a noteworthy example of how a modem-era terminal can be restored and adaptively reused.
The revitalization of an airline terminal structure can be daunting; the reuse of a modem expressionist icon even more so. Unlike obsolete airports that are decommissioned and find a new and very different life (Tempelhof in Berlin, Stapleton in Denver, and Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, NY,for example), the reuse of an individual terminal within an airport campus is more challenging.
Many historic terminals have retained at least partial aviation use, while others serve an unrelated function. The mixed-use adaptive reuse plan will include hotel, restaurant, and conference spaces, as well as serve as an alternate entrance to the new airline terminal situated behind the TWA Flight Center.
Infrastructure upgrades including new life-safety devices, lighting and ADA accommodations were sensitively incorporated to meet the needs of a hub-based, security-intensive transportation system and allow for the new use of the building.


TWA FLIGHT CENTER AT JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
TWA FLIGHT CENTER AT JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
TWA FLIGHT CENTER AT JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

BACK TO LIST
American Architecture
The Chicago Athenaeum | 601 South Prospect Street
Galena, Illinois 61036, USA | Tel: 815/777-4444 | Fax: 815/777-2471
E-mail: curatorial@chicagoathenaeum.org