January 2018
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MAS Shows that Saarinen’s TWA Terminal can Fly Again

Two years after it unveiled its redevelopment plan for the TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport – and sustained considerable, broad based criticism – the Port Authority has not changed its plan or its position that the structure is outmoded as an airline terminal. It maintains that the airport’s expansion program can only be satisfied by wrapping a hulking semi-circular new terminal around the landmark. The Society disagrees. While the TWA building may not be appropriate for a large airline, we’re not satisfied with the PA’s investigation of alternatives that would preserve the integrity of the structure and its original function. And, in fact, the PA is required to prove there is no “feasible and prudent” alternative before the Federal Aviation Administration can offer final approval to let the project move forward.

The Society set out to prove that an economically feasible and prudent alternative does exist. Hal Hayes, a noted architect and airport planner, worked with us to arrive at four different concepts that better preserve Saarinen’s masterpiece and allow continued airline related uses. This past October, Mr. Hayes convened a team of airport planners, designers, and traffic specialists to develop our concepts into a more detailed alternative plan.

The Society’s alternative preserves all the original features of the building and provides the number of gates needed to make the terminal financially viable as an airline terminal. It suggests locating new construction off to the side of the landmark, preserving the exhilarating views of aircraft activity that can be seen through Saarinen’s curvilinear windows. And it details how underground connections, concourse additions to the flight wings, and multi-level roadways can better address the needs of passengers and airlines. We believe it proves that the PA can fulfill its program without the demolition of the flight wings or the intrusion of a new building between the historic structure and the airfield, and without taking the world-renowned historic resource out of airport service. The Society is now awaiting the FAA’s decision on whether or not its plan disproves the Port Authority’s claim that no feasible and prudent alternative exists.