info 07.11.03

TWA Terminal

Don't let the Port Authority get away with it.

Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at JFK, that glorious, swooping, curvilinear icon, which proves that a building doesn't need great height in order to soar, is about to be destroyed by the Port Authority.

Even though the PA isn't planning to raze it, with the changes planned for the Saarinen design, they might just as well. The changes will completely decontextualize the structure and clumsily smother Saarinen's flight of fancy. And even though the building is a designated NYC landmark, as well as a designated NYC interior landmark, the PA simply doesn't have to comply with NYC law.

Recently, the building was placed on America's 11 Most Endangered Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Trust describes the problem this way:

"The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, owner of the building, seeks to redevelop the site as part of its airport expansion program. Current plans call for substantial demolition of the terminal's innovative flight satellite concourses, the construction of a hulking U-shaped building around its airside and a light rail system which bypasses the historic building and blocks the TWA Terminal's view of the tarmac. The Port Authority's plans will permanently remove the historic terminal's gates, and render it useless as an aviation structure." (Read more at

Under the terms set out by the FAA, the PA must prove that no "feasible and prudent" alternative can be found before the FAA will give the go-ahead. The Port Authority claims that there is no viable alternative. But that it not true.

Over at the Municipal Art Society, they've been working with architect and airport planner Hal Hayes on a feasible and prudent alternative plan. This plan was developed with a team of airport planners, designers, and traffic specialists. You can see the plan at

According to Vicki Weiner of the MAS, this is the time for concerned New Yorkers to act. The Port Authority will accept letters on the subject until July 30th. And on July 15th, the PA has scheduled a meeting (not even calling it a hearing), out at JFK. But it is open to the public. There are two sessions: from 3-5pm and 7-9pm. The location is JFK Building 14, 3rd floor main conference room.

Please send letters protesting the needless damage the Port Authority is poised to commit. Say that you support the Municipal Art Society alternative, which preserves the entire building and function.

Letters should go to:

Ed Knoesel
Port Authority of NY & NJ
Aviation Department
225 Park Avenue South, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10003


Philip Brito, Manager
NY Airports District Office
Federal Aviation Administration
600 Old Country Road, Suite 446
Garden City, New York 11530

with copies to:

Bernadette Castro, Commissioner
NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Agency Building 1, Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12238

Don Klima, Executive Director
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
Old Post Office Building
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 809
Washington, D.C. 20004

The Port Authority may believe it is acceptable to be profligate with New York's architectural heritage, but we do not. Please don't let them get away with it.
Calling All Bloggers: You can play a key role in this effort. Please alert your readers to this impending loss and ask them to write to the above addresses.

To our readers in print and broadcast media: Please consider bringing attention to this situation so that New Yorkers and others understand what may happen to the TWA terminal.

Credit: Color photos by David F. Gallagher. Find his work at, a terrific photo weblog of NYC.

recent entries

MUG Exits


The Department of Records

See all articles in INFO

Get a daily dose of MUG
right in your Inbox.