One of the best buildings in New York has lain dormant for a decade, with no one really wanting anything to do with it. That would be the old TWA terminal designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen. The gull-in-flight concrete structure is an international icon, but it lost its purpose when the airline went bankrupt in 2001. JetBlue took interest, but only in the tarmac out back, where it built a new Terminal 5 that opened last year.
Now, the Port Authority has an ambitious plan to revive the Saarinen building as a boutique hotel, according to The Journal.
Now, the agency hopes to find a developer who will build a small hotel in the space between the old TWA terminal and the new JetBlue building. The interior of the TWA space would serve as an entry way and lobby for the hotel with restaurants and shops.
“You can have perhaps the hippest, coolest-looking front office to a boutique hotel that serves a very special and unique air traveling market,” said Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward. “It’s not a big airport hotel. It’s going to be a niche-market boutique-style hotel with about 150 rooms.”
It seems like the perfect plan, an inn in the heart of the city’s busiest airport. Especially with all the delays suffered these days, passengers will probably be wanting for easy, reliable accommodations. And the high-architecture boutique model has been a huge success at places like The Standard and the Cooper Square Hotel.
Yet partly what makes the boutique model, pioneered by Ian Schrager in the 1980s, so successful is that it allows people to enjoy the hotel without actually staying their. It is hard to imagine anyone riding the A-Train and then the AirTrain for the privilege of bottle service or a dip in the jetfuel-misted pool. Indeed, the Port Authority has tried to transform the old terminal before, creating some sort of mini-mall, with limited success. And as The Journal points out, there will be landmarks and aviation approvals necessary, which could hamstring a design.
If this thing ever gets built, it will be a miracle–not only to have happened but to visit, as well, this being one of the most magnificent architectural forms in the world. That said, any plan seems like it will be stuck at the gate for some time.