The Eero Saarinen–designed TWA Flight Center at JFK reclaims its neo-futuristic
glory—and opens to guests.
Whether or not you were alive for the dawning of the Jet Age, you’ll recognize its soaring architecture, mod shapes, and saturated primary hues—hallmarks of a dazzling new era of exploration. And one of the best symbols of this inspiring age of design was the Eero Saarinen–designed TWA Flight Center, opened in 1962 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (then called Idlewild Airport). Its swooping, curvilinear cement “gull wings,” futuristic curved walls of windows, tube-shaped corridors, and flowing, doorless interior captured an American moment—right until TWA closed and was absorbed by American Airlines in 2001. After years of lying dormant, the landmark flight center reopened in May as the TWA Hotel, and my husband, Ed, and I took a sneak peek.
As midcentury-modern-design fans who designed and built our home in the Hudson Valley according to modernist precepts—and furnished it with, among other pieces, a Saarinen walnut tulip dining table and chairs that we bought from its original owners—we jumped at the chance to stay in the building that we have admired for decades in the first week that it was open as a hotel. It was overwhelming, like being inside a sculpture.
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