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TWA Hotel Debuts at JFK Airport

The restoration of Eero Saarinen’s landmark 1962 former Trans World Airlines terminal is finally complete and the TWA Hotel is now open at JFK Airport.

On May 15, 2019, thousands of guests watched New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Tyler Morse, CEO and Managing Partner of MCR and MORSE Development, cut the ribbon for the 512-room hotel in the iconic Sunken Lounge.

Many TWA alums attended the event, wearing their preserved uniforms and sharing memories.

Speakers at the grand opening event included:

  • Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Queens Borough President Melinda Katz
  • Peter Ward, president of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council AFL-CIO
  • Robin Hayes, CEO, JetBlue
  • City Council Speaker Corey Johnson

“The opening of the TWA Hotel at JFK creates an architectural gem as well as a symbolic step forward in Governor Cuomo’s vision to transform JFK into a world-class, 21st century gateway,” said Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“The preservation and conversion of this world-renowned landmark offers a one-of-a-kind destination for international visitors and New Yorkers alike," he added.

TWA Hotel
A Collection of Vintage TWA Crew Uniforms on Display at the TWA Hotel, Credit: TWA Hotel/David Mitchell

When the TWA terminal opened in 1962, it epitomized the glamour and optimism of the Jet Age. The structure was designated a New York City landmark in 1994 and, after its 2001 closure, was listed on the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places in 2005.

[From the Archives: First Look – TWA Hotel Shows Off Event Space]

Restoration of the building was led by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners.

Two brand new hotel wings were constructed behind it, which were designed by LUBRANO CIAVARRA Architects with interior design by Stonehill Taylor. There is also a new 50,000-square-foot events center.

The project involved 22 government agencies and more than 170 firms. Turner Construction Company began work in the fall of 2016. 

[Related Content: Airport Properties Emphasize Design, Amenities and Venues]

“Eero Saarinen’s cathedral to aviation has always looked toward the future,” said Tyler Morse, CEO and Managing Partner of MCR and MORSE Development.

“We restored and reimagined his landmark with the same care that he devoted to his design," he added. "No detail went overlooked—from the millwork by Amish artisans to the custom font inspired by Saarinen’s own sketches to the one-of-a-kind manhole covers.”

The Sunken Lounge at the TWA Hotel
The Sunken Lounge at the TWA Hotel,Credit: TWA Hotel/David Mitchell

The TWA Hotel, JFK Airport’s only onsite hotel, features:

  • 50,000 square feet of event space, including a 15,000-square-foot ballroom.
  • A rooftop infinity pool and observation deck with views of runway 4 Left/22 Right plus The Pool Bar operated by Gerber Group, serving cocktails and meals.
  • The Paris Café by Jean-Georges, a 200-seat restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner from an open kitchen in collaboration with Tastes on the Fly.
  • The Sunken Lounge, a cocktail bar operated by Gerber Group and located in the historic chili pepper red-carpeted lounge.
  • A Lockheed Constellation “Connie” L-1649A transformed into a cocktail lounge operated by Gerber Group.
  • Departures Hall grab-and-go dining operated by Fooda, including restaurants such as Antico Noè, Empanada Republic, Fresh&Co, The Halal Guys and Playa Bowls.
  • An Intelligentsia coffeebar and coffee carts throughout the hotel grounds.
  • The world’s biggest hotel gym: a 10,000-square-foot fitness center operated by The Wright Fit.
  • Iconic flight tubes featured in Catch Me If You Can that connect to JetBlue’s Terminal 5.
  • A Shinola custom watch bar and leather goods store.
  • A Phaidon + Herman Miller Reading Room, where guests are invited to relax on midcentury modern furniture by Herman Miller while browsing Phaidon books.
  • Museum exhibitions on TWA, the Jet Age and mid-century modern design curated by the New-York Historical Society.

Information is based off a news release from TWA Hotel.

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Kate Cripe | Former Content Developer, Departments/Features

Kate Cripe worked with Meetings Today for over eight years as a Sales, Marketing and Content Coordinator. She then moved to the editorial team where she writes and edits feature, destination and news articles.