Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
The ARK will make your experience look sorry by comparison.
Conjugal stations and shower stalls are just two of the appealing features at the newest terminal designed for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Unfortunately, they won’t make your layover any easier.
The privacy suites are reserved for penguins. Climate-controlled stalls with showers—let’s call a spa a spa—are booked for airlines’ equine passengers only. When it opens in 2016, the ARK at JFK, a full-service animal terminal and not a joke, not even in the slightest, will make the higher-primate airport experience look sorry by comparison.
The world’s first airport terminal for animals won’t be a huge concern for most people. The 178,000-square-foot facility will serve largely as an animal-handling depot—a quarantine station for horses, cattle, and other livestock passing through New York. The $48 million facility simply aims to make a mandatory stay a bit more comfortable for non-human animals of all kinds.
But some airline users are going to trill over one feature of the ARK in particular. Extremely wealthy passengers are getting a daycare destination worthy of their most precious support animals.
For $50 per day, airline travelers will be able to check their dogs into a new “resort” at the ARK. (Pictured above is the cattle-roundup area, not the puppy pampering pen.) Here is a description from Crain’s New York Business that will make a lot of you throw up:
Canine guests, meanwhile, will reside at a 20,000-square-foot "resort" called Paradise 4 Paws that will feature bone-shaped splashing pools, massage therapy and spa services like "pawdicures with colored nail pawlish," said Paradise 4 Paws' "chief barketing officer," Johanna Newcomb. Felines will have the Cat Adventure Jungle to stretch their legs on custom-made climbing trees with a view of the aquarium.
On the plus side: Touching scenes of pets reuniting with their owners after a flight. On the minus side: Every sentence in that last paragraph.
Is the ARK a bad idea? Of course not. As the Associated Press reports, it represents an advance in the way we treat animals, including true service animals. Crain’s reports that the Port Authority will collect $5 million in rent from the ARK over it 27-year lease; and for whatever reason, animal shipments passing through New York are on the rise.
Is it weird how we treat pets? Oh, absolutely. Right up there with Minions memes. The deeply problematic infantilization of pets is a current that crosses through all classes in the U.S. The worshipful treatment of pets may be the thing that unites all Americans. “Support animals” was just the beginning; it was only a matter of time before this phenomenon took physical form at one of the nation’s airports. Paradise 4 Paws is our fault as a nation.
Are there worse ideas than a luxury terminal for pets? There are worse ideas than a luxury terminal for pets. An airport pound would be way worse than an airport pet spa, because I would never leave the airport without a new puppy. Or a Chili’s that only served snakes departing and arriving from planes. Or a national-security apparatus whereby more-affluent passengers pay for entry in an exclusive pre-screening caste. Some bad ideas are more fantastical than others.