AIA New York State 2020 Design Awards

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“Remarkably sensitive reinvisioning of the Saarinen masterpiece. Recalls the onset of the jet age. Theme is consistently respected.” Jury Comment

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Photo Credit: ©Beyer Blinder Belle, Eric Laignel, Kristin LaBruz & David Mitchell

The TWA Flight Center, designed by Eero Saarinen, is one of the most significant examples of mid-century modern architecture. Since its opening in 1962, the building’s expressive form is a metaphor for flight and has defined the modern airport terminal. The Flight Center has been adapted into the TWA Hotel, a 512room contemporary hotel, restaurant, and event center, adding three interconnected structures, expanding it by over 260,000 square feet. Performed in two phases, Phase I restored core interior spaces of the Flight Center. Phase II, by the hotel developer, completed the project. After being dark for almost two decades, the TWA Hotel opened to the public last year. Non-original portions of the Flight Center were removed to create open areas for two hotel wings. The historic Flight Center houses six restaurants, shops, a fitness center, and a 250-person ballroom in the former baggage hall. The original terminal uses are similar to the program for a contemporary hotel lobby. As JFK’s only on-airport hotel, the project serves travelers passing through every day. Capping the hotels are a co-generation plant and a pool deck and bar. The event space, with 44 meeting spaces including a ballroom, is set 28 feet underground. Above the event center sits a restored

1958 Lockheed Constellation L-1649A, now a cocktail lounge. The new hotel wings are positioned outboard of the passenger tubes, preserving the primary historic scene. The hotel’s triple-glazed curtain wall consists of seven lites of glass for acoustic isolation. The hotel structures provide a neutral backdrop to the sculptural Flight Center. Restoration of the Flight Center included the building’s exterior shell, curtain wall and entrances, interior finishes, MEP, and life safety systems. The curtain wall, composed of uniquely-shaped trapezoidal panels, had chronically failed, and was restored utilizing new neoprene zipper gaskets and tempered glass to match the original green-tinted polished plate glass assembly. Finishes and furnishings were painstakingly restored to preserve the landmark’s character-defining features. New design interventions are complementary but distinguishable from Saarinen’s original design.