info 11.7.03

TWA Terminal Update

Very good news.

The Port Authority and JetBlue have done the right thing, thanks in large part to the work of the Municipal Arts Society: Eero Saarinen's TWA terminal at JFK will remain one of New York's treasured architectural landmarks.

Although the agreement is tentative, pending FAA approval, it seems likely to win that approval. Here's what the plan calls for:

JetBlue will "utilize the main terminal building as an entrance to a new terminal structure to be built behind it. The original tube-shaped passageway will be preserved intact, and significant components of the original Flight Wing — Saarinen's innovative gate satellite — will be relocated to the end of a new concourse. JetBlue will place ticketing and information kiosks in the terminal's soaring main hall to encourage passengers to come through it on their way to their gates. The remainder of the building will house restaurants and retail as well as other compatible activities."

"We're thrilled that this remarkably successful airline wants to make use of the nation's most architecturally significant terminal building," said Frank Sanchis III, the Executive Director of MAS.

After our plea on July 11, the MAS wrote to us that "the FAA and the Port Authority were impressed by the volume of correspondence they received regarding preserving the TWA Terminal at JFK airport. On behalf of the Municipal Art Society, thank you for helping to get the word out about the threat to this modern masterpiece. It really made a difference!" That thanks belongs to MUG readers.

Before we leave the topic, we'd like to comment on a Crain's editorial on this topic from August 11. It was a blithering, crass, short-sighted piece:

"Should preservationists from an organization like the Municipal Art Society dictate to the executives of JetBlue Airways, one of the best-run companies in its industry, how to design their new terminal at JFK International Airport? Of course not." [If Penn Station taught us anything, it is that sometimes the historical and architectural heritage of a city supercedes immediate commercial interests. It is so obviously irrelevant how well JetBlue is run. And for all Crain's knows, it could be gone within a few years, with only the loss of an architectural landmark to show for it.]

Calling the Municipal Arts Society "extreme preservationists," Crain's huffs that the MAS was "demanding that the Saarinen structure be used as an airline terminal." [It's shocking, isn't it, that anyone would want to maintain Saarinen's building in more or less its original form and for more or less its original intent?]

Crain's continues, "They took it upon themselves to offer their own designs. They have no credentials to do so. They are not expert in the needs of airline passengers. They don't know anything about making a profit in the brutal conditions that airlines face today." [This conveniently ignores the fact that the MAS worked with renowned airport planner Hal Hayes and that the plan was developed with a team of airport planners, designers, and traffic specialists.]

In the end, New York has retained a small, essential part of its character. Crain's, on the other hand, has shown itself as ignorant of history, greedy and boorish. It's nice that, sometimes, the good guys win.

Yesterday's MUG: Tailors

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