TWA Terminal at JFK Will Soon Become a Hotel

The Trans World Flight Center, or the TWA Terminal at New York JFK Airport opened in 1962, and was an architectural marvel. The wing-shaped design and the tube-shaped hallways were futuristic at the time, not unlike flying itself.

TWA Flight Center. Photo by Acroterion, used with permission.

TWA Flight Center. Photo by Acroterion, used with permission.

However, the design, while beautiful, wasn’t exactly functional. The terminal reached its capacity quickly, and was practically crippled when airlines began flying the 747. Expansions were made to better handle passengers and baggage, but TWA started struggling financially in the 1990s. Finally, the airline sold its its assets to American Airlines, and the terminal closed its doors in 2001.

There were talks about converting the terminal into a conference center, restaurant, or even an exhibition hall, though not much was actually done to the terminal. In 2005, the flight center became listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a pretty iconic landmark for aviation in New York.

Come to think of it, the last time I remember seeing the terminal featured was in a Cole Haan commercial…

Anyway, it looks like after all these years, the terminal will officially be getting a second lifeas a hotel (link to PDF). The terminal building will be restored, and be used as the main entrance to the hotel. It will also house restaurants, event space, a food court, and a night club. The hotel rooms will be located in two buildings, which will be built from the ground up behind the terminal, between the TWA terminal and JetBlue’s Terminal 5.

The hotel will be called the “TWA Hotel,” and according to the New York Times, American Airlines will be licensing the use of the TWA name and logo to the hotel. The new property will feature 505 rooms, a 10,000 square foot public observation deck, and about 40,000 square feet of conference space.

There will be new, “luminous, gently arching tubes” that connect the hotel, the TWA terminal, and Terminal 5. JetBlue, which operates out of Terminal 5 at JFK, has a 5% stake in the project.

Interior of the TWA Terminal at JFK, circa 2011. Photo by Brett Weinstein, used with permission.

Interior of the TWA Terminal at JFK, circa 2011. Photo by Brett Weinstein, used with permission.

MCR Development currently holds the lease on the flight center, and will be mostly responsible for the hotel’s development. The hotel will likely open in late 2018.

I think this is an exciting development, and a great chance to both preserve the iconic building and give it modern meaning. JFK doesn’t currently have any hotels connected to any of its terminals, so this will be a nice change, too, and the hotel could become a popular lodging and meeting venue choice for many business travelers.

What do you think of the plan to build a “TWA Hotel?” 

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  1. I could not begin to estimate how many hours I spent in the ‘pit’ at the TWA terminal; always entertained by the ‘flipping’ flight arrivals and departures board (before digital displays)! TWA (along with Pan Am) were some of my fondest memories of early travel (I began in ’63.)

    The TWA hotel will mean a lot to me when I get to stay there…and worth the experience and memories of a time far gone in air travel…

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