Eero Saarinen’s decommissioned TWA Terminal has been slated for conversion into a boutique hotel. It seems as though the Port Authority’s plan is to use the landmark terminal as the gateway to a separate hotel building that will be squeezed into the crescent of space between Saarinen’s building and JetBlue’s Terminal 5. Along with this proposal, some might think that creating a boutique out of a classic could contradict what Saarinen had in mind. Many design challenges can arise from a simple, yet complex transformation. More on the news after the break.
The lobby to a “boutique” hotel would seem to be an appropriate use for the old terminal, with its super-mod interior spaces. It’s got ready-made check-in counters and great spaces for lounges, bars, and restaurants with food by April Bloomfield. Think the Ace with a jet-age aesthetic. But whomever is chosen as architect to remake the space and build the adjacent new building will have some serious challenges, and those of us who are fans of the terminal, and believe in preservation, are going to need to be on our guard, since this is indeed one of architecture’s classic works.
Several design challenges will have to be addressed and responded to in a sensitive manner such as the integration of accessing the new hotel building from the old terminal. Will there be some alteration to the tubes that once led to the satelite gates and now attach (uselessly) to Terminal 5? And what becomes of the enormous window onto the tarmac that was once the focus of the entire building? That window now looks onto JFK’s access road, and would presumably, in the future, look out onto the basement of the new hotel building. This in itself would not exactly coincide with the romantic prospect Saarinen envisioned.