TWA Flight Center to re-open (sort of) as a hotel - Happy Valentine's Day!
“The company turned to Amish carpenters in Ohio to craft walnut martini bars...”
Trans World Airlines was one of the largest and most popular airlines in the United States and, eventually, the world. Founded in 1930, initially it provided only domestic flights, primarily between New York and Los Angeles. Famed aviator-entrepreneur Howard Hughes acquired the airline in 1939 and after World War II he expanded TWA's operations to include trans-Atlantic flights to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. While the airline's domestic operations were centered elsewhere in the United States, TWA made New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport the center for its trans-Atlantic operations.
TWA hired internationally renowned architect Eero Saarinen to design its TWA Flight Center at JFK, which was completed in 1962. (The photo above of a 1956 architectural model is in the public domain). Considered to be a masterpiece of mid-century modern design, the flight center was eventually closed following the sale of financially-trouble TWA to American Airlines in 2001. New York City designated the TWA flight center an historic landmark in 1994, and several attempts in the first decade of the 2000s to revitalize the facility or adapt it for reuse met with fierce resistance from historic preservationists and others who hold mid-century modern architecture in high esteem.
In 2005, JetBlue Airways proposed plans to re-use portions of the Saarinen building in its expansion plans for its operations at JFK, but it wasn’t until 2015 that JetBlue successfully entered into a partnership with approvals to turn the former flight center into a hotel. The new hotel—deemed the TWA Hotel—will officially begin taking reservations on Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2019) and will accept its first guests on May 15 with a celebratory grand opening scheduled for the fall.
By Everett Potter
February 10, 2019