On April 17th, a select group of media professionals donned TWA hardhats and toured the iconic Saarinen terminal at JFK led by Tyler Morse, CEO MCR and driving force behind the terminal restoration and the TWA Hotel project. On the tour Mr. Morse pointed out the innumerable details that made this building so unusual and outstanding. Having spent 32 years working in the terminal even I learned a few things and came to appreciate many aspects taken for granted. The obstacles involved in bringing this project to fruition, dealing with some 22 government agencies, 9 law firm and 124 consulting firms, did not deter Mr. Morse in his goal of restoring the 1962 Flight Center to its Jet Age glory. The terminal will have meeting spaces holding up to 1400 people, 6 restaurants and 8 bars, a fitness center and a museum devoted to TWA and the Jet Age.
Flanking the terminal will be the Hotel, 2 semi-circular buildings with 512 rooms, connected by the tubes with views of the runway and an observation deck and rooftop swimming pool.
After the tour we were transported to a Top-Secret location on the fringes of JFK by various vintage automobiles to see a full-scale mock-up of the hotel’s hallway and standard room. A flight attendant in a lime green vintage uniform directed us to Room 528, numbered in honor of the opening date of the Flight Center, May 28, 1962.
The hallways were carpeted in the TWA signature red and the doors were reminiscent of the old TWA walnut ticket desks. Stepping into Room 528 was like stepping back into the glorious swinging Jet Age of the 70’s, floor to ceiling windows with views of the runway, a red Knoll womb chair, next to a Saarinen pedestal table with a rotary dial phone. Hollywood style bathrooms were lit by bubble lights and had vintage TWA amenities. TWA posters and a glamorous glass and mirror bar stocked with high end beverages completed the luxurious feel.
Oh, and there’s a beautiful desk with a leather Saarinen chair should you wish to do a little work. As for me, dim the lights, turn on the Sinatra and chill the martinis. I’m going back to the 70’s and the glamorous Jet Age I remember.