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Boldly futuristic TWA terminal brought glamour to JFK

Valeria Carullo

TWA terminal JFK airport, New York, 1962

Eero Saarinen TWA terminal JFK airport New York .
Eero Saarinen TWA terminal JFK airport New York . Credit: Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Collections

With travel severely restricted in the past few months, it is perhaps easier for us now to understand the glamour of flying as it must have been perceived in the 1960s, and as it was then expressively captured in this photograph of the TWA terminal at JFK airport in New York. The building’s design by Eero Saarinen, seen at the time as boldly futuristic, had its centrepiece in the winged head house, covered by a thin reinforced concrete shell supported at the corners. The curves of this dramatic structure are repeated inside, linking ceiling, walls and floor in a fluid internal space. Saarinen sadly died a year before the completion of the terminal, which was therefore overseen by two members of his team, Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo. In 1994 both the exteriors and the interiors of the building were designated a historic landmark by the City of New York; this status didn’t stop the demolition of the two structures at the sides of the head house when, almost 20 years after its closure, the terminal was converted into a hotel in 2019.