The TWA Flight Center, a classic icon of 1960’s architecture designed by Finnish designer Eero Saarinen. was a symbol of the dawn of the Jet Age. Long closed and standing vacant at JFK airport, the building is getting a second lease on life as the TWA Hotel, a 505-room property that will include 50,000 square feet of meetings space, a 10,000-square-foot observation deck overlooking the airport’s runways and on the tarmac, a Lockheed Constellation, a classic four-engine prop plane, that will be converted into a lounge near the building’s two pedestrian tubes.
The fully restored terminal, which broke ground on its redevelopment last month, will house as many as eight restaurants and six bars, while the hotel rooms will be in two newly built, six-story towers behind the existing building. The former first-class lounge will be converted into a restaurant called the Admirals Club, while the ticket-counter area will be rebuilt as a food hall featuring yet-to-be-identified purveyors from the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. MCR will also preserve and restore the custom-built furniture designed by midcentury designer Charles Eames as well as a sculpture created by Isamu Noguchi.
JetBlue Airways, whose Terminal 5 is adjacent to the site and will be connectable via one of the tubes, has a 5% stake in the $265 million project, which is slated to open in 2018.
A far cry from the branded, select-service properties that surround most major U.S. airports, the TWA Hotel is envisioned as part of a newer crop of higher-end, architecturally significant on-site airport hotels that are built to be destinations in their own right. That includes the 519-room Westin Denver International Airport, which opened in November 2015; the 433-room Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which opened the following month; and the 350-room Grand Hyatt San Francisco International Airport, which is scheduled to open in 2019.
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