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TWA Terminal JFK

TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport | Design | Architecture

The Trans World Flight Center or commonly known as TWA Flight Center was built in early days of travelling through airlines, which opened in 1962 as the original terminal designed by architect Eero Saarinen. The terminal was designed for Trans World Airlines at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK Airport) in New York City. The TWA terminal is a remarkable example of technological transformations that were an outcome of Second World War. When Saarinen has handled the responsibility of designing the center in 1956, the authorities wanted the building to capture and represent the “essence of traveling through flights”.

TWA Terminal JFK

The architect’s original design featured a wing-shaped roof above the main terminal used curves in corridor spaces that merged into each other. All the elements of terminals including the roof and space were made to be of matching nature so that the passengers passing through would feel as each part arises from the another.

The terminal was designed and built it spacious with minimal of material. Saarinen needed more time to solve some issues with the designed, and so convinced his clients to give him an another year. The construction of terminal completed on May 28, 1962, a year after the architect died, due to a brain tumour.

Structure and Material used

structure of TWA Terminal

The Trans World Airlines Flight Center structure consists of a layer of concrete, with four segments that extend in an outward direction. Apart from concrete, the structure is supported by a web of steel, reinforced within the concrete. The glass panels below the thin-shell concrete roof are supported by steel.

The glass walls are intended to make the viewers feel, as they are looking out of a plane window. These glass panels also serve the purpose of the structure providing the view of aircraft as they arrive and departs.

Also Read: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s Architecture

Concourse and Lounge Addition

Saarinen died in 1961 of brain tumor, a year before the completion of this dreamy structure. A new departure-arrival concourse and lounge were added to the structure seven years later after the completion of the terminal. The terminals at JFK International Airport were designed with a vision of having separate terminals for different airlines. However, this did not help them financially and was forced to be shut down in 2001.

In 1994, the TWA Terminal became a Landmark, officially announced by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. It also got a place in National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

JetBlue Terminal 5 Construction

In December 2005, the construction of a new terminal for JetBlue Airways in JFK International Airport was commenced by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The terminal was completed in 2008 and partially encircles the TWA terminal designed by Saarinen. The Terminal 5 or T5 after the completion reopened on October 22, 2008. This new terminal occupies an area of 55,000 sq-foot. The terminal provides free wi-fi access with 22 food and 35 retail stores.

jetblue terminal 5 JFK

Due to the ageing of the structure of TWA terminal, it was hard to get it renovated and it remained closed for the public-access. There were proposals of turning the terminal into an aviation museum or a restaurant, which were discarded looking at the situation of the structure.

Even so, the TWA Terminal designed by Saarinen will be remembered in the American economy and architectural history. The structure was a neo-futuristic interaction between the engineering and architecture.