Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Iconic TWA Flight Center At JFK Airport Is Now Becoming A Hotel

The chili pepper red lounges and sloping curves of the TWA Flight Center.
(Max Touhey)

Eero Saarinen’s iconic, winged building, the TWA Flight Center, debuted at JFK (then Idlewild) Airport in 1962, at the beginning of the Jet Age, when Howard Hughes owned the airline and it was locked in battle with Pan Am for top honors in the air for international travel. Both airlines are now gone, of course, and the building was closed in 2001; it was also threatened repeatedly with demolition. 

Fortunately, it was instead designated a landmark and now progress is being made on creating the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport with the Flight Center as reception area/lobby. It should open, construction schedules willing, in 2019.

The concept for the building is to go lavishly backward, reconstructing the Mid Century modern designs and furnishings in the original, according to Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR Development which won the rights to develop the hotel (beating out, according to Morse, Ian Schrager and Donald Trump).

That means sunken lounges in chili pepper red, the sweeping mezzanines and balconies, the iconic clock, the Constellation Lounge for dinner and dancing (there was, in fact, a place to dance pre-flight.) On the sides, two low rise towers will house 505 guestrooms, 50,000 square feet of event space, a 10,000 square foot observation deck and 6-8 food and beverage outlets.

More than just a hotel, though, the hotel will pay homage to the airline’s history with a museum dedicated to artifacts of the era including manual typewriters, TWA flight bags, clips of major events of the day—the birth of the New York Mets, JFK and Jackie, John Glenn orbiting the earth—plus uniforms of flight attendants including the infamous and short lived paper uniforms geared to international routes. (example: a toga for Rome.)

To get a preview, MCR has opened the TWA Lounge on the 86th floor of One World Trade Center with renderings and some of the artifacts to be included. There is also a top of the Empire State Building-type telescope pointing to the hotel site 12 miles away so potential guests can check on the construction.

(Laurie Werner - Forbes)

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