A great deal of attention has been paid lately to vintage JFK. Thanks to that lovely show Pan Am, we got a glimpse of what Terminal 3 looked like in its glory days, rather than the leaking mess it had become in recent years. It was recently torn down so Delta, which is expanding Terminal 4, could have more space to park planes—no, not a new terminal, just a bare strip of tarmac, a glorified plane parking lot. (Maybe with the airport so congested, that’s for the best. Another terminal would mean more planes everyday, wouldn’t it?)
Then there is the still stately Terminal 6, JetBlue’s home before it took over the new Terminal 5 encircling Eero Saarinen’s revered TWA Terminal. Terminal 6 is also coming down, a soaring glass pane and concrete strut at a time. There has been much handwringing over this of late, thanks in no small part to the appearance of Christina Ricci in a blue stewardess’ garb, but as is often the case with old buildings, it is too little, too late. And we don’t even yet know what is replacing the thing.
That leaves us with the TWA Terminal and the TWA Terminal alone.For those feeling the twinge of nostalgia a little too strongly right now (present company included), Open House New York has delivered a respite. This Sunday, October 16, Saarinen’s swan-like masterpiece will be open to the public from 1:00 to 4:00. Unlike so many Open House events, there are no reservations, so the space is unlimited. Bring the kids, bring a date!
Charles Kramer, an architect at Beyer Blinder Belle who oversaw the renovation of the terminal last decades, and James Steven, manager of JFK facilities at the Port Authority, will lead a talk starting at 1:00.They will be discussing the renovation and efforts to rehabilitate the space with commerce—as well as fielding angry questions about Terminal 6, The Observer imagines.
Those latter two have a lot in common. When people point to the destruction of Terminals 3 and 6 as a loss of historic airline architecture, the Port points to Terminal 5 as plenty. Not only is it the most iconic of the terminals, but the authority has had a hell of a time redeveloping the thing.
It’s given up on getting Jet Blue to use it as a fancy check-in area, which, let’s face it, even the biggest architecture buff would probably bypass in the interest of getting to the gate five minutes faster. The latest plan is to turn Terminal 5 into a luxury hotel of some sort, maybe run by Andre Balazs, Donald Trump, or some other boldface developer. It might well be the coolest Ramada Inn ever built, but considering there have been no developments in the plan for almost a year, one wonders if it is not dead, especially with innovative Port Authority director Chris Ward headed for the exits.
And so we are left with our world-renowned folly. If you’d like to get a look inside this weekend, check ohny.org for details.