- Project Name
- TWA Hotel
- MCR/Morse Development
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 390,000 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
- Madeleine D'Angelo
- Project Status
An abridged version of the below paragraph appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of ARCHITECT as part of expanded coverage of the 2021 AIA Architecture Awards.
An example of adaptive reuse able to cause a more giddy state among lovers of Modern architecture than the TWA Hotel is hard to imagine. The work of resuscitating Eero Saarinen’s 1962 airline terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport fell to Beyer Blinder Belle in collaboration with Lubrano Ciavarra Architects. Beginning nearly 20 years ago with structural improvements to the aging concrete frame, the designers have succeeded in converting the facility into an all-new hospitality destination, with upgrades both minute in detail—replacing tiny tiles in the aging floor—and daring in vision—joining with a team of collaborators to add two new structures flanking the original building, giving the hotel all-new rooms and amenities while preserving the old flight center in total. With technical ingenuity and artistic aplomb, the designers have achieved something that feels literally and figuratively transporting.
Project: TWA Hotel. JFK Airport, Queens, New York
Client: MCR Development
Project Architect/Preservation Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle. Richard Southwick, FAIA (partner, director of preservation), Miriam Kelly (principal), Orest Krawciw, AIA (principal), Carmen Menocal, AIA (principal), Joe Gall, AIA (senior associate), Susan Bopp, Assoc. AIA (associate), Efi Orfanou, (associate), Michael Elizabeth Rozas, AIA (associate), Monika Sarac, AIA (associate)
Consulting Architect and Design Architect for the Hotel Buildings: Lubrano Ciavarra Architects. Anne Marie Lubrano, AIA (principal)
Interior Design for Hotel Rooms, Select Public Areas: Stonehill Taylor. Sara Duffy (principal)
Interior Design for Conference and Event Spaces: INC Architecture & Design. Adam Rolston (creative & managing director, partner)
Mechanical Engineer: Jaros, Baum & Bolles. Christopher Horch (associate partner)
Structural Engineer: ARUP. Ian Buckley (associate principal)
Electrical Engineer: Jaros, Baum & Bolles. Christopher Horch (associate partner)
Civil Engineer/Geotechnical Engineer: Langan. Michelle O’Connor (principal)
Construction Manager: Turner Construction Company. Gary McAssey (project executive)
Landscape Architect: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA). Signe Nielsen (principal)
Lighting Designer, Hotel: Cooley Monato Studios. Emily Monato (principal)
Lighting Design, Flight Center: One Lux Studio. Jack Bailey (partner)
Food Service Design: Next Step Design. Eric McDonnell (senior vice president)
Size: 390,000 square feet
Materials and Products
Acoustic Coating: Pyrok Acoustement 40
Bathroom Fixtures: Kohler (Caxton Oval undermount sink, Composed Faucet & Shower Trim, Santa Rosa)
Carpet: Bentley (Broadloom Carpet in “Chile Pepper”)
Ceilings: Eurospan by Owens Corning (Stretch Fabric Acoustical Ceiling Panels)
Exterior Wall Systems: BPDL Precast Concrete (precast concrete building panels)
Hotel Curtainwall: Fabbrica (Custom triple-glazed curtain wall system)
Curtainwall Gaskets: Griffith Rubber (Snap Lock Curtainwall Gaskets)
Entry Doors: YKK (YKK model 20D narrow stile entrance doors in clear anodized aluminum finish)
Split Flap Display Board: SOLARI DI UDINE SPA (Custom Split-Flap Display Board)
Ceramic Tile: Design & Direct Source (Mosaic penny tile)
Seating: New York Custom Interior Woodcraft (Custom Lounge Seating)
Balustrade System: Glass panels by Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, standoff fittings by CRL
Curtainwall Glass: Vitro Architectural Glass (formerly PPG) Solexia
Gypsum: Fire-Shield Gypsum Board by Gold Bond
HVAC: Vertical Fan-Coil Unit – Model TVS by TEMSPEC
Insulation: Semi-rigid insulation board – Cavityrock by Rockwool
Lighting Control Systems: ETC
Adjustable Louvered Sphere Spotlight; Arm-mounted Downlight Can: Spectrum Lighting
Inground Aviation Light: Flight Light (HL-280 w/ Soraa Lamp)
Illuminated Signage: Crown Sign Systems
Welded Stainless Steel Plate Handrails: 316L stainless steel by Champion Metal & Glass
Paints and Finishes: Regal Select Premium Interior Paint by Benjamin Moore
Roofing: Hot applied, rubberized asphalt waterproofing – Colphene H-EV by Soprema
This project won a 2021 AIA Architecture Award. From the firm's 2021 AIA Award Submission:
The TWA Hotel imbues Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, one of the grandest examples of Mid-century Modern architecture, with new life. While its expressive form has long evoked the act of flying, its renovation and addition of more than 250,000 square feet allow it to serve as its own destination in the heart of one of the world's busiest airports.
When it was designed in the mid-1950s, Saarinen's center supported a much different type of air travel than today’s. Meant to accommodate 80-passenger prop planes and Boeing's early jet airliners, the terminal could not handle the wide-body planes that emerged shortly after its opening. Its inability to accommodate greater passenger loads and baggage handling requirements quickly rendered the center obsolete, and TWA's multiple bankruptcies followed.
Regardless of its deficiencies, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the center a landmark in 1995, recognizing its architectural pedigree. However, it was still vulnerable to demolition until the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey constructed a new JetBlue terminal behind the center, effectively sheltering it in place. The design team initially worked with the Port Authority as a preservation consultant to stabilize the center following its vacancy in 2002 after TWA's final bankruptcy.
The transformation of the center into a hotel was completed in two phases, with the first restoring the center's core interior spaces. The second, undertaken by a hotel developer, completed the project. The historic center now boasts six restaurants, a fitness center, several shops, and a 250-person ballroom where passengers once retrieved their baggage. As the airport's only on-site hotel, it greets more than 160,000 passengers who travel through the hub daily.
Two new hotel wings are organized around the passenger tubes and set between the center and adjacent JetBlue roadway. The wings are wrapped in a triple-glazed curtain wall consisting of seven lites of glass that provide acoustic isolation. The northern wing is capped with a co-generation plant, and the southern includes a 10,000-square-foot pool deck and bar.
The team went to great lengths to restore the flight center, including its exterior shell, finishes, and systems. The work was informed by drawings and photographs obtained from Yale University's Saarinen Archives, which the team used to restore the building to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Restoration.
The center's curtain wall, comprising 238 trapezoidal panels, had regularly failed. The team restored it with neoprene zipper gaskets and tempered glass that match the original's green tint. Inside, more than 20 million custom-made penny tiles were employed to make exacting repairs to surfaces throughout the center.
Each new intervention that the team introduced was carefully balanced to reference Saarinen's aesthetic. Its rich palette of wood, metal, glass, and tile continues the center's legacy of modern elegance. As a nod to the center's previous life, it features didactic displays on Saarinen, TWA, and the airport's history. A restored 1958 Lockheed Constellation L1648A nicknamed "Connie" sits just outside, now serving as a cocktail lounge.
Consulting Architect and Design Architect for the Hotel Buildings: Lubrano Ciavarra Architects
Interior Design for Hotel Rooms, Select Public Areas: Stonehill Taylor
Interior Design for Conference and Event Spaces: INC Architecture & Design
Landscape Architect: MNLA
Lighting Design, Flight Center: One Lux Studio
Lighting Design, Hotel: Cooley Monato Studios
Food Service Design: Next Step Studios
Structural Engineer: Arup
MEP Engineer: Jaros, Baum & Bolles
Geotechnical Engineer: Langan
Phase I Restoration Client: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Phase II Hotel Redevelopment Client: MCR/Morse Development
Airport Operator: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey