Thursday, September 26, 2013

JFK's Most Famous Terminal To Become A Luxury Hotel

After years of inactivity, the former TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport will be transformed. When it was completed and opened in 1962, the TWA Terminal was heralded as futuristic beacon for the jet age. More than 50 years later, the landmark building will be redeveloped as--what else?--a luxury hotel. The Port Authority has chosen famed hotelier Andre Balazsm, developer of the Standard Hotel in Tribeca, to transform the site into a one-of-a-kind hotel and conference center in the heart of JFK’s central terminal area. The Standard Flight Center is still in the planning stage, with no opening date yet announced.

The famous TWA Flight Center at New York's JFK airport was once the ultimate symbol of the jet age.

The Eero Saarinen-designed building opened in 1962, and was an instant, award-winning architectural icon.

Unfortunately, its futuristic look didn't translate to the 21st century.

Once known as the "Grand Central of the jet age," It closed in 2001, when Trans World Airways ceased operations. It occasionally reopens for special events, hosting open houses and, briefly, an art gallery that was promptly vandalized and shuttered.

Now, after years of dithering, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has finally settled on a developer for the site. Balazs Properties will turn it into a Standard brand hotel and conference center with restaurants, stores, a flight museum and a spa and fitness center.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has long tried to bring the TWA terminal back to life. They first proposed a restaurant and conference center surrounded by one or two new terminals, but faced opposition from the Municipal Art Society of New York and famous architects for compromising the spirit of the famous structure.

The news is not particularly surprising. The gull-wing structure was previously being renovated in conjunction with JetBlue which made it the gem in the airline’s Terminal 5 development when it opened in 2008. (The building’s profile even graced JetBlue’s logo.) The airline, however, failed to incorporate the terminal in its greater T-5 complex.

The Port Authority is committed to preserving the essence of Saarinen's iconic design and Andre Balazs, now responsible for the building's next chapter, promises his vision will live on.

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