The TWA Hotel Debuts Inside Eero Saarinen’s Historic Terminal at JFK

The Finnish-American architect's Jet-Age icon takes flight again.

The restored lobby at the TWA Hotel.

The landmarked atomic-age building will be given a fresh start as a luxury design hotel, offering guests the opportunity to step back into midcentury glamour.

A sweeping expression of the golden age of air travel, Eero Saarinen’s 1962 TWA Flight Center at New York’s JFK International Airport has been restored to its original condition, and will be making its official return to society as the lobby of the new TWA Hotel this spring. The “head house,” as it has come to be known, had sat dormant since 2001 after the remainder of TWA was sold to American Airlines. The renovated space will include Jean-Georges’s Paris Café among six restaurants, eight bars—one is tucked away inside a retrofitted TWA airplane—meeting spaces, and a 10,000-square-foot observation deck.

In addition, the architects at Stonehill Taylor have designed 512 brand-new guest rooms, set back from the terminal, featuring a glass curtain wall to cancel out all that jet noise. The seven-pane, 4.5-inch-thick curtain wall, designed by Fabbrica, will be the second-thickest facade of its kind, after the U.S. Embassy in London. (INC Architecture & Design was commissioned for the event spaces.)

(CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT) Inside a guest room at the new TWA Hotel. Eero Saarinen’s 1962 TWA Flight Center was restored to its original condition. Vintage posters and warm woods line the rooms. A vintage photograph of the terminal.

“Our approach to the guest rooms draws inspiration from a wide array of influences from culture and style during the era around 1962 when the terminal first opened,” said the firm’s principal and VP of interior design, Michael Suomi. To that end, each comes outfitted with Saarinen-designed Knoll furniture; walnut, brass, and crystal accents; and a wet bar stocked with TWA-branded crystal glassware, snacks reminiscent of the period, and all the accoutrements necessary to make a  classic martini.

Working with the New York Historical Society, the TWA Museum in Kansas City, the Saarinen archives at Yale University, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and even former TWA employees and their families, developer MCR/Morse has gathered over 2,000 artifacts of the era for a series of thoughtfully curated exhibits that will be on display inside the original terminal. The hotel is already taking reservations, so if you’re making summer travel plans, you may want to make a pit stop through the 1960s.

(Photos by Ezra Stoller, Max Touhey, and David Mitchell)

All Stories