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Photograph: Courtesy Max Touhey

The TWA Hotel is about to bring glamour back to JFK

Jet Age chic is coming back to JFK Airport in a big way this year with the painstakingly renovated TWA Terminal.

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

It’s pretty rare that a couple would choose to get married at an airport.

But multiple weddings are already on the books at JFK’s gorgeous, completely renovated TWA Terminal, set to reopen to the public this spring as a hotel, food-and-drink and convention destination. That’s right, starting in 2019, you may actually look forward to going to JFK.

One reason behind those surprising ceremonies is the sleek, jaw-dropping interior of Eero Saarinen’s landmark 1962 building, which exudes a jet-setting splendor. For example, the Lockheed Constellation airplane’s smooth lines inspired the terminal’s sweeping staircases and ceilings, and the meticulous, three-year renovation uses one of the airplanes as a cocktail bar.

“The building was closed in 2001 and empty for 17 years,” explains Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR Development. “When we got there, the windows were falling out and it was full of lead paint, so we spent $65 million to bring it back up to speed. Then, we began to scour for all of the period-appropriate items for the interior. We found a lot on eBay and some from former pilots and flight attendants. We were able to find 45 original TWA flight-attendant uniforms from Balmain, Valentino, Ralph Lauren and others, and they will all be on display.”

In addition to the 512 guest rooms that offer views of JFK’s runways, the site will house a Jean-Georges  Vongerichten restaurant, a rooftop pool and an observation deck. Underground tubes will provide express service to JetBlue Terminal 5, and an on-site museum will explore the history of the landmark building.

But Morse doesn’t see the revitalized terminal as just an Instagram-friendly destination for chic travelers and aviation geeks: He envisions it as a new cultural center for the borough.

“We’re planning on doing 50 bar mitzvahs and 100 weddings a year, and we’ll even have an ice-skating rink and a Christmas tree! This is going to be the Rockefeller Center of Queens.”

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