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February 27, 2014

Saarinen's TWA Terminal is back on standby.

Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

In early 2011, the Port Authority of New York issued a request for proposals to transform the Eero Saarinen-designed TWA Terminal at JFK Airport into the centerpiece of a hotel. A few big players – including Trump and Starwood – sent representatives to tour the vacant terminal, and until recently it looked like developer André Balazs was going to develop the site, using the historic landmark as the lobby for a 150-room hotel. In January, André Balazs Properties issued a statement that said, "After more than two years of negotiations, Standard International has been unable to reach a final agreement with the Port Authority and will no longer pursue the project."

Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

Completed in 1962, the TWA Terminal has been vacant since American acquired TWA in 2001. It was added to America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2003.

Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

P.S. Collections by Eero Saarinen are included in the Knoll Classics Sale at DWR. Save 15% and enjoy free shipping through Tuesday.



The preservation of the mid-century building legacy is crucial, as buildings lose their original use and stand to deteriorate. The clock is ticking and demolition by neglect is too often the end of it. Time is of an essence. As a Preservationist who take an active interest in adoptive re-use and nurture a wider support base for preserving our historic legacy I support the idea of a hotel as one way to make use of this structure, but how can this be done without big developer backed financing? As we know, numbers speak, and if the numbers do not add up a project does not happen.
It may sound like a pipe dream, but crowd sourcing should be one viable way to preserve not only the TWA Terminal, but many other neglected and overlooked structures from the middle of the last century. If actors can raise millions for a first movie, building enthusiasts should be able to do the same with threatened architectural structures.

Kaja Gam is a designer and a member of the Ossining Historical Commission, Ossining NY

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