Photograph of a high, sculptural atrium with white walls and curving stairs.
The soaring Eero Saarinen terminal, now the hotel's lobby. TWA Hotel/David Mitchell

A swinging hotel just opened inside the defunct 1960s-era terminal designed by Eero Saarinen at New York’s JFK Airport.

Yesterday was the opening of New York’s new TWA Hotel, the long-awaited reincarnation of an airport terminal designed by midcentury master Eero Saarinen at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens.

At a cost of more than $250 million, hotel developers MCR and four architecture firms have added on to and carefully restored Saarinen’s winged 1962 terminal (known as the TWA Flight Center), which ceased operations in 2001 and sat empty as proposals to save it came and went. New York City landmarked the structure in the 1990s to prevent its demolition.

The hotel’s 512 rooms are located in two understated new black-glass buildings. These bracket the Flight Center, and are reached from it via long, red-carpeted tubes.

New hotel wings flank the landmarked 1962 terminal. (TWA Hotel/David Mitchell)
Flight Tube No. 2, leading to the Hughes Wing. (TWA Hotel/David Mitchell)

Travelers who are passing through JFK can stay at the hotel for about $250 a night, choosing a view of either the runway or the Saarinen landmark. (The hotel’s website promises the rooms are “ultra-quiet” thanks to thick glass walls.) For layovers, there’s the option of a shorter “day stay” for $150 and up. But it costs nothing to walk in and enjoy the dramatic interior of the original main terminal, now the hotel’s lobby.

You can sip a pre-flight martini at a Saarinen Tulip Table in the Sunken Lounge, or drink out on the runway, in a 1958 Lockheed Constellation airplane (“Connie”) that’s been retrofitted into a cocktail bar. Hotel guests (and visitors who pre-book) can also swim in the hotel’s rooftop infinity pool while watching planes take off.

The Sunken Lounge features a split-flap departures board and a view of the restored 1958 Lockheed Constellation plane. (TWA Hotel/David Mitchell)
The hotel’s rooftop infinity pool and observation deck overlook JFK’s busy Runway 4 Left/22 Right. (TWA Hotel/David Mitchell)

Other amenities include Shinola and Warby Parker stores, an Intelligentsia Coffee location, and a restaurant by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

The hotel is full of period furniture designed by Warren Platner, Isamu Noguchi, and Raymond Loewy as well as Saarinen. The renovation team focused on design details so closely that it hired the graphic-design firm Pentagram to create a new custom typeface for the hotel, based on the lettering that Saarinen originally used in the terminal.

Giving a building its own typeface may seem like overkill. But “the Grand Central of the jet age,” as one critic dubbed Saarinen’s swooshing icon, deserves no less.

Pentagram’s new custom typeface for the hotel, Flight Center Gothic. (Courtesy of MCR)
(Courtesy of MCR)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A man and a woman shop at a modern kiosk by a beach in a vintage photo.
    Design

    Why Everyday Architecture Deserves Respect

    The places where we enact our daily lives are not grand design statements, yet they have an underrated charm and even nobility.

  2. A chef prepares food at a restaurant in Beijing, China.
    Life

    What Restaurant Reviews Reveal About Cities

    Where official census data is sparse, MIT researchers find that restaurant review websites can offer similar demographic and economic information.

  3. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

  4. an aerial photo of urban traffic at night
    Transportation

    The Surprisingly High-Stakes Fight Over a Traffic-Taming ‘Digital Twin’

    Why are some mobility experts spooked by this plan to develop a data standard that would allow cities to build a real-time traffic control system?

  5. Photos

    A Drainage Project Reveals the Secrets of a Paris Canal

    A brief and recent history of the 10th arrondissement, told in garbage.

×