JFK Airport: Mid-Century Modern Marvelous-ness

Balthazar Korab, 1964, The Library of Congress

Balthazar Korab, 1964, The Library of Congress

This Sunday, if you are flying to/through JFK Airport, you’ll want to stick around or have a long layover! On October 13 the TWA Flight Center will be open to the public through openhousenewyork weekend. The terminal, designed by Eero Saarinen and built in 1962 is an epic and iconic mid-century modern structure. The National Trust for Historic Preservation saved it from the wrecking ball in 2003, after TWA went out of business. The new owner, American Airlines felt the building was unusable due it’s layout which provides no logical areas for new security technologies. The most recent effort to transform the building came from a developer who wanted to turn it into a hotel. Gasp!

Can’t make it out this weekend? Michelle Young posted a “behind the scenes” photo tour.

On your layover this weekend, also check out the Worldport. The Worldport, also known as the PanAm Terminal is the “flying saucer” structure at JFK. I don’t think you’ll be able to get inside this building; it’s slowly being demolished as we speak, despite efforts by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (although some say it’s not too late). The Port Authority and Delta Air Lines want it gone. Compared to the Saarinen-designed TWA Flight Center, Paul Goldberger wrote for Vanity Fair that “…the Pan Am terminal was the second-best piece of architecture at JFK, and in some ways it captured the feeling of the moment more directly.”

What do you think? Do we tear mid-century icons like these down for the sake of efficiency or turn them into museums, restaurants, or even a hotel? Mr. Roger wants to know.

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