Portal:Architecture/Selected article/2007-29

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TWA Flight Center Building
Thin-shell structure by Eero Saarinen

TWA Flight Center was the original name for the Eero Saarinen designed Terminal 5 at Idlewild Airport — later called John F. Kennedy International Airport — for Trans World Airlines. The terminal had a futuristic air; The interior had wide glass windows that opened onto parked TWA jets; departing passengers would walk to planes through round, red-carpeted tubes. It was a far different structure and form than Saarinen's design for the current main terminal of Washington Dulles International Airport, which utilized mobile lounges to take passengers to airplanes.

It was completed in 1962 and is the airport's most famous landmark (as well as being a National Historic Landmark). It was built before the age of terrorism and aircraft hijackings. Gates in the terminal were close to the street and this made it difficult to create centralized ticketing and security checkpoints. This building was the first airline terminal to have closed circuit television, a central p/a system, baggage carousels, an electronic schedule board and precursors to the now ubiquitous baggage weigh-in scales. JFK was rare in the airport industry for having company owned and designed terminals; other airline terminals were built by Eastern Airlines and American Airlines. Individually branded terminals included the Worldport of Pan American World Airways and the Sundrome of National Airlines. (more…)

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