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TWA Hotel Opens in Landmark Saarinen Flight Center



A city filled with historic structures now has an airport hotel located within one of its most iconic landmarks.

The TWA Hotel at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport opened officially Tuesday at Finnish architect Eero Saarinen’s futurist TWA Flight Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the long-awaited launch.

Encircled by JetBlue Airways’ Terminal 5, the 512-room hotel offers upscale accommodations finished in a 1960’s motif and housed in two low—rise towers flanking Saarinen’s Flight Center, originally dedicated on May 28, 1962.

The modernist structure itself serves as the hotel’s lobby and features a rooftop pool bar and observation deck, a lounge within “Connie” a 1958 TWA Constellation airplane, plus branded food, beverage and retail options including a Paris Café by Jean-Georges restaurant.

The TWA Hotel is located in Finnish architect Eero Saarinen’s futurist TWA Flight Center. (Photo by Brian Major).

The 200,000 square-foot the lobby is billed as world’s largest. Hotel guests and airport passengers transferring from JFK terminals will have access to the hotel via the airport’s AirTrain system and through Saarinen’s original passenger tubes that connect directly to Terminal 5.

The Flight Center was declared a New York City Landmark in 1994 and in 2005 earned listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It was among the first airport terminals to feature enclosed passenger jetways, closed-circuit television, a central public address system, baggage carousels, and an electromechanical split-flap display board.

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“Eero Saarinen’s cathedral to aviation has always looked toward the future,” said Tyler Morse, CEO and Managing Partner of owner and operator MCR/MORSE Development. “We restored and reimagined his landmark with the same care that he devoted to his design. Starting today, the world can enjoy this midcentury marvel for many years to come.”

The hotel also houses a Jet Age and mid-century modern museum that chronicles period design and the launch of the Jet Age, with mid-century furniture, original TWA uniforms, destination posters created for TWA by 1950s artist David Klein and other TWA memorabilia, with many donated by former TWA employees.

Over the past two years, restored Saarinen’s structure, which had been closed since 2001 and officials said was in danger of demolition.

In all, the hotel will offer six restaurants and eight bars including The Sunken Lounge, located in the historic chili pepper red-carpeted lounge and an Intelligentsia coffee bar, with coffee carts deployed throughout the hotel grounds. The hotel also features a rooftop infinity swimming pool and a 10,000 square-foot observation deck plus “Connie,” a Lockheed Constellation L-1649A airplane that houses a cocktail lounge.

A TWA Shop features an online store with a clothing and accessory collection by J.Crew and Madewell alum Somsack Sikhounmoung. The 40 pieces are available at the retail store in the TWA Hotel.

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