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Jet-age revival: Abandoned airport terminal hotel gets funky retro twist

by | Mar 7, 2019 | Design

An abandoned terminal at New York’s JFK Airport, designed by famous architect Eero Saarinen in 1962, has become the TWA Hotel: a modern hotel with a retro twist.

Eero Saarinen’s Trans World Airlines terminal in John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City shut up shop in 2001, but now the building, famous for its futuristic curves and sweeping lines, has been given a new lease of life as the airport’s first on-airport hotel.

We find out more about the incredible transformation of this structure into the TWA Hotel, a modern classic.

Jet-age revival in JFK Airport

The Trans World Airlines terminal at JFK Airport was the brainchild of famous modernist architect Eero Saarinen, who was responsible for some of the most iconic buildings of the 1950’s and 60’s, including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

The terminal at JFK was completed in 1962 and quickly became one of the most iconic pieces of aero-architecture.

Synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the “jet age”, when Pan Am was the epitome of the jet-setting lifestyle, the TWA terminal went out of operations when the airline became defunct in the early 2000’s.

However, it may have been closed, but it was not forgotten, as evident by the its new incarnation as a retro-luxury hotel.

Modern take on a retro theme

The new hotel has been designed by New York–based firms Lubrano Ciavarra, INC., Beyer Blinder Belle, and Stonehill Taylor, all of which have experience in the hospitality industry.

The original structure and layout has been retained, allowing guests to experience what it might have been like to pass through this unique space back in the 60s.

Influences of this era can be seen in the waiting areas, where the original seating remains, but also in the newer elements, where vintage drinks carts are stationed to serve guests high-end tipples such as champagne.

The rooms are where the new concept and design really comes alive, with guest rooms having direct views out onto the runways, buffered with some of the thickest glazing on the market so as to not be disturbed by the passing planes.

Distinctive elements can be found throughout the rooms, such as rotary phones, Hollywood vanities and custom made leather furniture.

Mod cons and much more

The hotel also offers all of the amenities you would expect to find, such as business and meeting spaces, and 50,000 sq ft of event spaces to accommodate 1,600 people. A wellness centre provides guests with access to a gym and exercise classes, and for guests who want to unwind before their flight, they can choose from one of the hotel’s eight bars and restaurants, which are inspired by various global destinations.

The hotel is ideal for anyone wanting to experience the famous architecture of the past in a new and innovative way, It is, however, also for those who wish to learn a bit more about the era and the airline — there is a dedicated TWA museum, where exhibits teach people about mid-century design and even have some original uniforms, posters and luggage tags from the 1960s on display.

Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR and MORSE Development, says: “Restoring the TWA Hotel is a labor of love for our entire team. We are counting down the days until the landmark building, dark since 2001, is filled with life again.”


Let’s take a look at a few other projects currently underway in New York:

351 West 38th Street Hotel

Graduate Roosevelt Island

SoBro Park Hotel Bronx



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