Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight Center

CivicPost 1950Queens

John F Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, NY, United States

ARCHITECTS
Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche

BUILT 1962

RESTORED BY Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners

RESTORED ongoing

INTERIOR DESIGNATED 1962

DESIGNATED AREAS
Ground level interior, consisting of:
● Entrance lobby
● Information desk
● Sculpted piers and archways at the juncture of the side wings
● Stairway leading to the main level
Main level interior, consisting of:
● Ticketing area
● Telephone alcoves
● Stairways leading to the balcony level and adjacent ‘air fountains’ (sculptural ventilation ducts
● Elevated walkways leading to the gate structures
● Southern gate structure interior, including the central area, glazed walkways, and two triangular gate areas
Balcony level interior, consisting of:
● Balconies and bridge between the balconies
● Restaurant and club areas and their sculpted central service cores (excluding the interiors of the service areas)
● Window seats
● Upper portion of the balcony area
Fixtures and interior components of these spaces, including but not limited to, wall and ceiling surfaces, floor surfaces, windows, skylights, vertical window blinds, doors, balustrades, stairway railings, piers, water fountains, telephone booth dividers, lighting fixtures, signage, including the TWA sign mounted on the window-wall facing the runway, ventilation elements, built-in seating and counter units, and attached decorative and sculptural elements.

TransTWA-Flight-Center

Excerpt from Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report:

“The Commission further finds that, among its important qualities, the interior of the TWA Flight Center, designed by Eero Saarinen & Associates, (Eero Saarinen and Kevin Roche), is among the chief works of one of the most highly-regarded architectural firms of the modern era; that Saarinen’s firm revolutionized air terminals through an expressive approach to design that extended to the interior and the incorporation of technological advances, producing a distinctive and highly-acclaimed work of modern interior design with the TWA Terminal (1956-62) that the design of the building interior expressed Saarinen’s intentions to ‘interpret the sensation of flying’ and ‘be experienced as a place of movement and transition’; that the design concept was carried throughout the entire building with a ‘family of forms’, so that ‘all the curvatures, all the spaces and all the elements – down to the shapes of signs, railings, counters, and other elements – have one consistent character’; that the expressive interior, which remains largely intact, was modeled to provide a succession of differentiated spaces in which all elements are integral to the building; that among the elements integrating and articulation the spaces are the circular white marble tile cladding the floor and most of their vertical surfaces, which accentuates the monolithic quality of the smaller elements as well as spatial volumes; window walls, narrow skylights, and fixtures which provide striking and controlled lighting in the main portion of the terminal; and a variety of unconventional forms including walls, piers, and smaller elements such as the information desk; that the open central space, enclosed by roof vaults and divided into three levels and joined by curving staircases functions as a modern crossroads below the aerie-like balcony space open to the enclosing roof forms and the lower levels; that the design of the enclosed walkways to the gate structures creates a feeling of expectancy and transition which is heightened by the rise of the floor surface and the indirect lighting on the upper portion of the concave walls, and that the main gate structure, which services grouped in a central core and projecting jetway access arms, incorporates some of the first solutions for satellite gate structures for jet aircraft and its interior elements relate to the aesthetic and materials of the main terminal area.”

LPC Designation Reports

Photograph courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Balthazar Korab Archive at the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-krb-00608