Wednesday, August 22


I photo the TWA Flight Center on the way out. The center, designed by Eero Saarine, was the original name for Terminal 5 at Idlewild Airport — now named the John F. Kennedy International Airport — for Trans World Airlines. The terminal was groovy with wide interior glass windows that opened onto parked TWA jets; departing passengers walked to planes through round, red-carpeted tubes (think: 2001 Space Odyssey). It was a far different structure and form than Saarinen's design for the current main terminal of Washington Dulles, which utilized mobile to take passengers to airplanes.

Design of the terminal was awarded to Detroit-based Saarinen and Associates and completed in 1962 and is today a National Historic Landmark. The building was the first airline terminal to have closed circuit television, a central p/a system, baggage carousels, an electronic schedule board and precursors to the now ubiquitous baggage weigh-in scales. JFK was rare in the airport industry for having company owned and designed terminals; other airline terminals were built by Eastern Airlines and American.

Following American Airlines' buyout of TWA in 2001, Terminal 5 went out of service. The Port Authority has proposed converting the main portion of the building into a restaurant and conference center, but some architectural critics opposed this move.