The TWA terminal at the JFK Airport in New York is a brilliant example of how old airports around the world are being re-designed for new purposes. The TWA hotel stays true to Eero Saarinen’s original design and will transport you right back to 1962.

Re-designing an old airport into a modern hotel
Photography: Max Touhey

In the past couple of decades, our travel habits have changed dramatically. More people are travelling by air and the planes have increased significantly in size. This means that airports are changing as well. However, the new requirements are sometimes so different that they require decommissioning the old buildings. Instead, new airports are designed from scratch with state of the art technology to cater for future needs. The good news are, that some of the old airports are now being repurposed for a viable new future.

Re-designing an old airport into a modern hotel
Photography: Max Touhey

The innovative design of the TWA terminal

In the middle of the vibrant JFK Airport in New York, you can find a concrete architectural icon from the 1960s. The former “Flight Center” terminal of defunct airline TWA designed by the Finnish-born architect Eero Saarinen has been redundant since 2001. When the terminal was built, it’s organic bird-like contours captured the spirit of flying and was a sign of the optimism and excitement of the jet age. Saarinen’s design included futuristic innovations such as the first movable jetways and the invention of carousels.

Re-designing an old airport into a modern hotel

However, the terminal was designed at the end of the propeller-driven airliner era and on the cusp of the jet age when airplanes typically carried 100 passengers. When TWA got its first Boeing 747 the terminal was basically too small and became obsolete.

Re-designing an old airport into a modern hotel
Photography: Max Touhey

The TWA hotel

The terminal is now being transformed into a 512-room hotel with eight restaurants, six bars, fitness and an observation deck. The project is run by the New York-based architects Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) together with the developer MCR. The hotel will retain many of the terminal’s jet age details – one of them the original mechanical Solari split-flap message board.

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Re-designing an old airport into a modern hotel
Photography: David Mitchell

Additional projects on redesigning old airports also include:

  • The 1938 Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport: the former Art Deco-styled base of Pan Am’s Clipper flying boats
  • The 1935 Newark Airport terminal
Re-designing an old airport into a modern hotel
Photography: Max Touhey

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