Inside JFK Airport’s New TWA Hotel

On May 15, JFK’s TWA Flight Center Hotel, set inside Saarinen’s iconic midcentury terminal, officially opened to the public.

Eero Saarinen dreamed big when he designed the TWA Flight Center in 1962—it marked a new era of jet air travel, and the midcentury building’s iconic shapes and wide flanks mimicked the futuristic grandeur of the airplane.

Unable to support the new size of modern aircrafts, the terminal closed in 2001 and remained dark for the next 16 years.

This month, the terminal finally sees new light as a respite for travelers, who can opt for either a day stay or an overnight rest. Developers MCR and Morse Development completely restored Saarinen’s landmark to the icon that it stood as during the Jet Age, a period in aviation defined by the advent of turbine engines, making transcontinental and intercontinental travel faster, easier, and more possible.

The new TWA hotel is sprawling. 505 guest rooms, 50,000 square feet of conference and meeting space, 8 restaurants, and a 10,000 square foot public observation deck share one roof.

Saarinen’s Womb Chair makes an appearance in a chili pepper red Knoll fabric beside a white Saarinen tulip side table. The vintage rotary phone, a 1950s Western Electric 500, is even custom fitted with a pulse to tone converter courtesy of Old Phone Works.

For all the planes in view, you’ll barely hear them. A Fabbrica glass curtain wall creates a sound barrier between you and the non-stop rumble of the runway. The wall, made of seven panes and measuring 4 and a half inches, is the second thickest in the world after the U.S. embassy in London.

The retro-chic TWA lounge, outfitted with vintage TWA memorabilia, a chili pepper red carpet, and TWA uniforms, seems like an altar dedicated to the glory of jet travel; a nostalgic reminder of how mysterious, fun, and exciting it was to board a plane in those times. It also rekindles our optimism for airports and air travel ahead.

What: TWA Hotel
Where: JFK Airport, Jamaica, NY 11430
How much? Room prices start at USD $239
Design draw: Ultra-quiet guest rooms with planes in plain view, Knoll furniture such as a Saarinen Womb Chair and Pedestal tulip side table, and a Philip Johnson-inspired Hollywood style vanity.
Book it: Visit TWA Hotel

Photos by TWA Hotel.

Keshia grew up in Singapore and moved to the U.S. to attend Dartmouth College. When she was living abroad after graduation, a chance enrollment at the Architectural Association Visiting School led to her becoming enamored with door schedules and architectural écriture. She's particularly interested in design for aging, rural architecture, and Asian design heritage.