John F. Kennedy International
Airport (formerly Idlewild)
New York NY
Eero Saarinen 1962
Saarinen's terminal for TWA is
sculpted as a symbol of flight - abstract, and not intentionally as a
landing eagle as it has often been described.
The expressive curves of the
design create attractive, spacious halls and a rare degree of exhilaration
for an airport terminal. The period bright orange carpets are gone, and
the atmosphere is a more contemporary cool with the tone set by the
purple-tinted glazing, but the romance of flight is very much alive.
Although the building appears to
be made of sculptural concrete, the structure is in fact braced within the
concrete by an invisible web of reinforcing steel - comparable to the
invisible steel hammock supporting the concrete roof of Saarinen's other
1962 airport terminal building, at Washington
'...a building in which the
architecture itself would express the drama and specialness and
excitement of travel... a place of movement and transition... The shapes
were deliberately chosen in order to emphasize an upward-soaring quality
of line. We wanted an uplift.'
Saarinen died in 1961, a year
before the building was completed.
Simon Glynn 2001
How to visit
Saarinen'soriginal TWA Terminal, numbered
Terminal 5 at JFK, has been closed since the demise of
TWA, the airline, in 2001. It is being integrated into an expanded
terminal for JetBlue, combining the current terminals 5 and 6, in a
scheme that partially (but not fully) preserves the Saarinen structure.
See more information on plans for this terminal from JetBlue, or read a recent article on what is and is not being preserved in the National Trust's Preservation magazine.
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