Open House at the TWA Flight Center: A last hurrah


The facade of the TWA Flight Center at JFK. This part is always accessible, but inside rarely is.

My first time inside the TWA Flight Center at JFK was four years ago during the Open House New York event held there. With the building set to become part of a hotel in the next couple of years this weekend’s OHNY event was a last hurrah of sorts for visiting the facility. And so off I went to the airport with no plans to fly.

Curves and light and the iconic clock above
Curves and light and the iconic clock above

The building remains in great shape, at least on the surface. There are signs of small troubles along the way – tiles popping off in some places – but overall it remains a beautiful piece of architecture. The façade evokes the image of a bird and curved wings while the interior is filled with more swoops and curves.

The facade of the TWA Flight Center at JFK. This part is always accessible, but inside rarely is.
The facade of the TWA Flight Center at JFK. This part is always accessible, but inside rarely is.

 

All the curves, all the spaces and elements right down to the shape of the signs, display boards, railings and check-in desks were to be of a matching nature. We wanted passengers passing through the building to experience a fully-designed environment, in which each part arises from another and everything belongs to the same formal world.

—Eero Saarinen, 1959 from Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. p250.

 

Looking up in the TWA Flight Center at JFK
Looking up in the TWA Flight Center at JFK
Curves everywhere at the TWA Flight Center, and they all matter
Curves everywhere at the TWA Flight Center, and they all matter
More gorgeous curves in the TWA Flight Center at JFK
More gorgeous curves in the TWA Flight Center at JFK

 

And, true to its form as an airport terminal the building did a great job managing the massive collection of people visiting. Yes, it was crowded. But people flowed through just fine. Because that’s how well deigned airport terminals work.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

2 Comments

  1. I guess I was lucky in that I was taken to this terminal many times as a child. My whole family was from NY, so I spent whole summers in NY. But, I actually travelled thru here, quite a few times, on TWA, in the ’90s. Many people don’t realize that TWA really took care of their old planes and that terminal. The TWA Terminal is truly a national treasure. The last remaining geographical icon of that early jet age! It is so timeless! It looks like something from a Jetsons cartoon!

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