Back in 1962, when architect Eero Saarinen’s fabulously futuristic TWA Flight Center was opened at JFK International Airport, the world was getting pretty darn excited about the golden age of travel. It was true, the times were a-changin’ – in three years a jet would be winging the Fab Four over to the United States from Britain and there was even talk of landing some lucky character on the moon.
In essence, the TWA Flight Center with its fluid, impossible-looking architecture was something of a Mid-century-Modern cathedral to aviation. And the centre had another claim to fame, it was owned briefly by billionaire eccentric Howard Hughes.
The building was designed with a thin four-shell structure – a popular construction form at the time. That aside, other architectural references pale as Saarinen designed the iconic terminal very much on its own terms. Unfortunately, the visionary architect died a year before the terminal actually opened.
The TWA Flight Center served as TWA’s terminal at JFK until 2001, when it was no longer able to support modern aircraft. In 1994 it was designated as a historic landmark and in 2005 it was listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places.
And thus the scene is set for one of the most amazing examples of adaptive reuse in modern times. MCR – the seventh largest US hotel owner-operator – together with Morse Development had the vision to reinvent the terminal as a world-class hotel with 512 guestrooms, a 4650m² state-of-the-art meeting and event space, and a variety of high quality food, beverage and retail options.
Lubrano Ciavarra Architects (LCA) undertook the role of design consultant and design architect, with Beyer Blinder Belle as project architect and preservation architect Stonehill Taylor as interior designer. The events centre was by INC Architecture & Design.