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The old, gull-winged TWA terminal at JFK to become a Jet Age hotel

TWA Flight Center

The gull-winged landmark that is the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport.

(Dmitry Avdeev / Wikimedia Commons)

Anyone who has visited JFK Airport in New York City likely has likely seen the terminal designed for TWA by Eero Saarinen. Now the delicate gull-winged building that once heralded the Jet Age will become a hotel.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced plans for a “complete rehabilitation” of the shapely modern landmark that served as the TWA Flight Center for almost 40 years.

The terminal, which is adjacent to and part of JetBlue‘s Terminal 5, has been closed for 14 years because it couldn’t accommodate modern-day aircraft. It fell into disrepair and then was restored in 2008, occasionally opening to the public for single-day tours.

An announcement describing the plans says the hotel will be “set back from the terminal, designed to defer to the landmark.” The terminal was designated a New York City landmark in 1994 and placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

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The hotel will have 483 rooms and 22 suites plus 40,000 square feet of event space. Plans also call for a museum centering on the legacy carrier TWA (Trans World Airlines), the Jet Age and the Modern design movement.

The public-private partnership brings together MCR Development, JetBlue and the Port Authority of New and New Jersey. MCR will operate the hotel.

Saarinen, who was born in Finland but raised in the U.S. and also designed Dulles airport in suburban Washington, said of his New York building building: “All the curves, all the spaces and elements right down to the shape of the signs, display boards, railings and check-in desks were to be of a matching nature.

“We wanted passengers passing through the building to experience a fully-designed environment, in which each part arises from another and everything belongs to the same formal world.”

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