Although news of LaGuardia’s upgrade has gotten most of the media coverage over the past couple of days, there’s another important bit of airport news out there: After standing empty for 14 years, JFK’s landmarked TWA Terminal—the midcentury architectural masterpieces designed by Eero Saarinen—well be repurposed as the The TWA Flight Center Hotel. Plans been have been afoot for such a makeover for years, with JetBlue offering a similar proposal that never got off the ground. But it looks like this time, things might work. MCR Development, the brains behind the plan, says the new facility will boast 505 rooms, six to eight food destinations, 10,000-square-foot observation deck and 40,000 square feet of meeting space, mostly in the building soaring main hall. The original terminal will be spruced up, but otherwise preserved as most of the new hotel will take up a building to be constructed behind Saarinen’s creation.
When the terminal opened in 1959, it was state of the art, celebrated not only for its bird-like exterior but for interior touches like the two long tunels or tubes that led passengers to and from the gates. It was essentially a kind of theater, a dramatic and glamorous gateway, ushering travelers into the marvels of a nascent jet age. These days, of course, flying means being packed in like cattle (unless you can spring for First Class), and settling for peanuts (literally) to sustain you during the flight. But in a few years, the hotel will offer visitors entering New York a taste of a more refined, civilized era of air travel, thanks to Saarinen’s genius. After more than 65 years, his building still looks cool as hell.