JFK’s Iconic TWA Terminal To Become Airport Hotel

It’s one of the most architecturally stunning airport terminals in the world, yet no one gets to experience it. Terminal 5 at New York’s JFK airport has been sitting largely unused since 2001, when the mid-century modern masterpiece by famed architect Eero Saarinen was put in mothballs. The TWA Flight Center, as it’s known, was opened in 1962 at the height of the Jet Age. But with TWA’s demise, a new JetBlue Airways terminal was completed in 2008 that partially encircled the original building while planners decided what to do with the iconic structure.

Now the good news: travelers will get to enjoy the historic terminal as the TWA Flight Center Hotel. With ground expected to break sometime this year, and opening in 2018, the hotel will feature 505 guest rooms, 40,000 square feet of conference and meeting space, up to eight dining establishments, and a 10,000-square-foot observation deck. Also in the plans is a museum that celebrates the Jet Age in New York, the history of TWA, and Mid-Century Modern architecture and design. And as a bonus for green-conscious groups, the hotel will also be LEED certified.

A bit surprisingly, this will be the first airport hotel at JFK, which is finally joining the ranks of other major airports offering an on-site hotel. In fact, several airports have been upping the ante of late by renovating or opening very attractive properties, such as the eye-popping Westin Denver International Airport.

The projected $265-million project is a public-private partnership between JetBlue, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and MCR Development. MCR was behind another recent historic redevelopment in New York: turning the 1800’s-era General Theological Seminary into the boutique High Line Hotel. New York officials are also working on a master plan for future development at JFK, which would include better terminal interconnections, improved road access in and around the airport, expanded rail transit, and added amenities such as fine dining and conference and meeting rooms.

Not to be outdone, New York’s LaGuardia airport is getting $4 billion in redevelopment funds to help ease aircraft ground congestion by more than doubling runway/taxiing space, and drastically upgrading its four terminals, including the Delta Air Lines-owned terminals C and D. And according to preliminary renderings of the project, travelers will eventually be able to take a ferry to and from the airport, which sits along the East River.

Photo credits: Max Touhey

John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is an award-winning journalist, travel writer and blogger based in San Jose, California. He has covered the meetings and hospitality industry extensively since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @jcax01

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