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JFK’s airports classic TWA terminal says goodbye

Despite the fact that it’s one of the busiest international air passenger gateways in the United States, plenty of travelers do what they can to avoid New York’s JFK International Airport.

The hub is, after all, often included on lists of America’s worst airports.

It could be worth a visit this weekend, however, when the airport opens the doors to its classic TWA Flight Center terminal one last time before development.

The famed gull-winged building, which is set to become a hotel, will welcome visitors on October 18 as part of the Open House New York initiative that unlocks the doors of the city’s landmarks.

The terminal was designed by the celebrated Finnish architect Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962.

It’s still celebrated as an icon of the Jet Age.

On an artistic level, it’s seen as a masterpiece of 20th-century modernism, with sleek and flowing lines said to evoke the notion of flight.

On a practical level, it eventually turned out to be a dud.

The terminal struggled to handle larger airplanes and the higher volume of passengers brought on by rapid advances in air travel.

It’s been out of use since 2001, when the airline it was originally built for, TWA, went out of business.

Redevelopment

Over the last six years the building has been painstakingly restored and included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Now, MCR Development (with offices in New York and Texas) plans to invest $265 million to turn it into JFK’s first on-site luxury hotel.

The hotel owner-operator firm says its plan, due to be completed in 2018, includes a museum focusing on New York City as the birthplace of the Jet Age of intercontinental travel.

It’ll also focus on the history of TWA, once among the premier carriers in the world, and the modernism design movement.

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